What Water Damage Is Covered by Homeowners Insurance?

Water damaged homeHomeowners Insurance policies can often be confusing. We trust our agents to make sure we’re covered (pun intended), but it’s really your responsibility as a homeowner to understand the fine print, caveats and varying scenarios. This is especially true of water-related issues in the home. Of the top 10 most common – yet preventable – homeowners insurance claims filed in the U.S., half of them are due to water damage. So what kinds of water damage are covered by homeowner’s insurance? Where are the holes and exceptions? Read on to learn more.

When one considers water damage to a home, the first scenario that comes to mind is flooding, right? Well, don’t get tripped up here. Flooding from natural disaster is an entirely separate set of clauses and coverage in an insurance plan, and is not covered under the general category of water damage. Flood coverage is covered separately, or at least as a rider onto your current policy. Without a flood policy, your insurance company won’t be covering any damage to your home due to flooding.

Types of Damage Covered by your Policy

What kinds of water damage are covered in your policy? Malfunctioning appliances, such as your dishwasher or washing machine, may cause water damage to floors and walls. Leaking sinks and toilets are also popular culprits of water damage. Broken pipes from freezing or other causes can result in serious water issues. Leaky roofs can be messy and expensive. Plumbing overflows and discharges from air conditioning and heating units, not to mention in-home fire sprinkler systems are also a common source of household water issues. And you’ve heard the expression, “adding insult to injury,” right? If you’ve had a fire in your home, it’s not just smoke and flame damage. If the fire’s the injury, water’s the insult. Fire Departments may need to use substantial amounts of water in your home to extinguish the fire. With all the inner workings of a home, the list of potential water damage goes on and on. Most of these issues should be covered in the standard policy. If you have a water disaster that’s covered by your policy, you will be reimbursed up to the maximum coverage less your deductible.

Exceptions and Exclusions

Now comes the caveat: While your policy may cover the actual water damage, the source of the malfunction may not be covered, especially if it can be proven that you were negligent or previously aware of the malfunction. (Proving your awareness of the issue may be difficult for agencies, so protection the first time around may swing your way. Subsequent occurrences, though, may be harder to justify.) Here are a few cause-and-effect examples of how your policy likely works:

  • If your house floods due to a pipe bursting, you’ll likely be covered. However if you didn’t drain or cover your pipes and they froze and burst while you were away, it may be said that you’ve failed to take proper precautions, giving the insurance company grounds to deny your claim.
  • If a malfunctioning washing machine or dishwasher causes water issues, your policy will cover the damage. Your policy will not cover the repair or replacement of the cause of the damage (the appliance); that will be your responsibility.
  • If you’ve experienced water damage from heavy rains seeping into your home, the parts of your property with water damage will be covered. However, the cause of the problem is probably a leaky roof—which would not be covered under your policy.

Read your policy carefully.

Watch your Premiums

Not all claims will increase your insurance rate, but water damage claims may be more likely to hike up your premiums. Be sure to calculate the amount of damage you’ve experienced versus your deductible and possible rate increases before filing the claim. The short-term benefit may not outweigh the long-term cost.

If you’re facing serious water damage in your home, turn to Woodard. Our water mitigation team will dry and repair damaged any property within St. Louis, Missouri quickly and safely. Get in touch with us through our contact page or call us at 314-227-3930.


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