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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?

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Homeowners insurance coverage and water damage explained
Photo of water damage on the ceiling by Infrogmation/Wikimedia

Water damage resulting from flooding, sewage backup, and erosion will not be covered by your basic homeowners policy. Water damage resulting from burst pipes or other named perils in your policy will be covered. The trick is being able to decipher which caused the water damage in your home and showing the insurance company that’s the case. 

Water damage can be expensive and when it occurs, the damages resulting can be great. One inch of floodwater can cause up to $10,000 in damages, so being properly insured is a must, especially if you live in flood-prone areas. Your basic homeowners insurance policy will not cover flood-related water damage, however. Nor will you be protected from a flooded bathroom resulting from a backed-up toilet. 

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Knowing what types of water damage your homeowners insurance policy protects against can be pivotal and taking steps to cover different forms of water damage can save you financially. In this article, we will discuss what types of water damage are covered by your basic homeowners policy and what steps you should take to properly insure yourself against the rest. Water damage can be costly and purchasing a policy that protects your home completely might be invaluable. 

What is covered by homeowners insurance

Typically, your homeowners insurance will protect you from unexpected and sudden cases of water damage coming from inside the structure of the home. A basic rule of thumb is if the water is weather-related, you might need a separate policy to protect your home from the damages. There are some cases where weather-related damages are protected, but flooding, eroded leaks, and sewage backups all require a specific policy or an all-risk policy, which can be expensive.

The following are risks that are covered by your basic homeowners policy:

  • Plumbing – If a pipe in your home bursts and water leaks through your walls causing extensive damage to your home, your insurance policy will protect you. This type of water damage is the most common interior damage that’s protected and can be the most expensive. Burst pipes not only cause severe water damage but could require replacement of the piping system itself. 
  • Fire – If a fire breaks out in your home or apartment, you may have a sprinkler system that kicks in to snuff the flames. This will put out the fire but could result in extensive water damage. Luckily, this is one of the covered perils in your policy. Any water damage or mold resulting from this will be covered.
  • Vandalism – Anyone coming into your home and destroying pipes or leaving the water running will result in serious water damage. This will be covered by your policy for any form of vandalism and any damages that result of this person’s malicious intent. 
  • Rain – This is both covered and not covered so don’t be alarmed that it’s on both lists. The issue with deciding whether you’re covered from rain damage is how the damage occurred. For rain damage to occur, it must be driven by the wind resulting in serious damage to your home. If the rain is merely a resultant factor of the wind during a storm, your home will be protected.
  • Snow – If the snow builds up on your roof causes collapse or melts and seeps into your roof causing water damage, you’ll need to argue that proper steps to prevent this issue had been taken. The water damage from snow can only be argued if it’s resulting from a severe storm that left you with no time to prepare.

Insurance companies are picky about what they cover and do not cover. Finding the proper insurance to protect you against all perils is important and if your home is at risk of serious water damage, it may be smart to seek out a separate policy. 

What is not covered by homeowners insurance

Weather can be one of the most common forms of water damage and unfortunately, one of the least protected. Insurance companies often require separate policies to protect a home against risks such as floods and earthquakes. These specialty policies are sometimes required by certain zones where these issues are more common. However, you will not find the following cases protected in your basic homeowners policy.

  • Floods – One of the most damaging forms of water damage is flooding. As mentioned before, one inch of floodwater can result in $10,000 worth of damages. Being uninsured from flooding is a huge threat and one that is recommended to be fixed. If you live in a zone that is prone to flooding, adding flood insurance may be required and is highly recommended.
  • Sewage Backups from your sewage line resulting in water damage will not be covered by your homeowners insurance policy. If your sewage pipes are backed up and your toilet floods the bathroom, you may be unprotected and have to pay out of pocket for the repairs. You can get optional sewer backup insurance to cover these instances.
  • Erosion – This falls into the wear and tear category of your insurance policy. Most homeowners insurance policies will not cover anything that results from wear and tear as it’s the homeowner’s responsibility to take care of their home. If water seeps through a crack that you could have repaired, your insurance will not cover the cost of repairs.
  • Rain – Cases, where rain damage is not covered, are more common. Weather-related damages are typically not covered because they either require a separate policy or fall into wear and tear. It’s likely that your insurance company will claim that the rainwater got into your home through an existing crack and could have been prevented. Unless the wind was strong enough to create a projectile out of the raindrops that broke through your roof, your insurance will not cover rain damage.

Filing a claim for water damage

Be careful when filing a claim about water damage. It’s one of the most difficult categories to decide whether you’re covered or not. If you’re sure that your case will be reimbursed and falls into a category of protected perils by your homeowners insurance, then file that claim. If not, speak with your agent to see what they recommend before filing your claim.

Another option is to act preventively. Add the necessary policies and riders to completely protect your home. If you don’t have flood insurance, don’t expect to be covered if a flood occurs. Insure your home and take the necessary steps to prevent any wear and tear. Your insurance company will see that you’ve protected your home and may lower your rates as a result.

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