The short answer? It depends. The kind of water damage will dictate whether your homeowners insurance will cover it or not. Typically, if the cause was sudden or accidental, like a burst pipe, your insurance can help. If the damages were caused by low maintenance or typical wear and tear, coverage would not apply either. So you will be responsible for maintenance as a homeowner, and if the appraiser can find evidence of neglect or deterioration, your claim could be denied. Also, water damages resulting from a flood or a sewer overflow will not be covered by your insurer.
To understand better the water damages covered by homeowners insurance, here is what you need to know about.
What Water Damage Does My Homeowners Insurance Cover?
Your homeowners insurance policy will cover water damage from sudden accidents that you couldn’t have reasonably prevented and that came from inside of your property. Dwelling coverage, also known as hazard insurance, helps repair damages to your home structure, from foundation to roof, including some weather-related perils caused by water damage. If you have an open-peril or all-risk policy, your homeowners insurance may cover more than the named perils from a standard policy. Nonetheless, your home insurance won’t cover damage caused by flooding.
If you’re still asking is water damage covered by homeowners insurance? Here are examples of covered scenarios:
- Plumbing mishaps (burst, frozen, faulty): Your policy could cover sudden bursts or blockages in your plumbing system if an overflow of water or steam caused it. For example, if your basement flooded because the pipes burst, your insurer should cover that damage under a standard homeowner policy. Other accidental discharges like water heaters, air conditioners and outdoor sprinklers should be covered as well.
- Water damage from extinguishing a fire: If a fire at your property activates the fire sprinklers or should firefighters need to extinguish a fire, damages or mold caused by it will be covered.
- Appliance overflow: If your washing machine or dishwasher has any water discharges, this type of damage will be covered. Bear in mind that it will only cover the damages, not the replacement or repairs for the appliances. For that you will probably need a home warranty.
- Heavy rain or snow, and leaking roof: If you are wondering does homeowners insurance cover water damage from rain? The answer is that it may, but only if the damage was caused by a weather event, not something that could be avoided. These damages usually are considered as part of the windstorms and weight of snow perils.
- Vandalism: Say someone intentionally destroys the plumbing systems at your home or leaves the water running, then your policy could cover it as a malicious activity peril.
What Water Damage Is Not Covered by My Homeowners Insurance?
While your insurance policy covers many types of damage, the cause of the damage may not be covered. This means that even if you are trying to understand how to get insurance to pay for water damage if the cause is not on the list of perils that they cover, it won’t pay for the repairs or replacement. If you have a leaky roof, your insurance won’t cover the cost to replace the roof, but it will cover the water damage that the leak caused on carpet and floors inside your home. Additionally, your home insurance will not cover water damage if the cause is wear and tear or lack of maintenance.
Some instances where you won’t be covered for water damage include:
- Flooding from rain, river overflow or tsunami: A significant source of water damage that is not always covered is flooding, including flooding from natural causes like rain, river overflow or tsunamis. For that, you’ll need a separate flood insurance policy.
- Sewer backups: Overflows that are caused by sewages or drains are not covered either. But you can ask your insurer for an add-on or endorsement to include these on your policy.
- Seepage: If water seeps damage the foundation and interior of your property, home insurance companies consider it as a maintenance problem, excluding it from coverage.
How Do You Prevent Water Damage?
Water damage is a common and expensive home insurance claim, but there are a few ways you can be proactive to prevent water damages in your property.
- Disconnect hoses and maintain vegetation: Water left in a hose can freeze, back up, and cause your pipes to burst, while roots from trees and shrubs can wrap around your pipes and break them.
- Clear gutters and downspouts: Clearing these water collectors of any debris will prevent backup and clogs.
- Maintain appliances: Regularly checking for leaks and maintaining the condition of appliances like dishwashers and laundry machines will help prevent sudden leaks or overflows.
- Install water detection devices: These small devices have sensors that can sound an alarm when they come into contact with moisture. They’re great for catching smaller leaks that you’re likely to miss.
- Monitor the water bill: If you notice a sudden spike in your water bill, there’s a good chance you have an unattended leak — whether it’s hiding in the basement or in a pipe under your lawn.
Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage FAQ
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold?
Your home insurance policy should cover mold if it grows as a result of covered water damage. For example, if an air-conditioning system overflow eventually leads to mold growth, your insurance will cover the removal because it is an extension of covered water damage. You can also purchase an additional endorsement for extra mold coverage.