Imagine you come back home after a long winter vacation to find several frozen pipes had burst, causing flooding in your home. You may be asking yourself, “Does homeowners insurance cover water damage in this scenario?”
If you’re a new homeowner, it’s important to know what’s covered and not covered by your homeowners insurance. Learn more about types of water damage in your home, how to file a claim and ways to prevent future accidents.
- The water damage must be accidental and sudden for insurance to cover your claim.
- Any water damage caused by negligence will most likely not be covered by insurance.
- Insurance coverage for the water damage will depend on the origin of the damage.
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What Type Of Water Damage Is Covered By Homeowners Insurance?
Water damage can be covered by homeowners insurance if the damage was accidental and sudden. Standard HO-3 policies typically offer two types of coverage: dwelling and personal property.
Dwelling coverage includes any damages to the structure of your home. Personal property coverage includes any damages to your belongings if they fall under one of the 16 named perils within your HO-3 policy. Some perils you may come across are water damage, freezing, fire, wind and hail.
Below are several water damage scenarios that’ll most likely be covered by your homeowners insurance.
Damage caused by leaking pipes due to improper installation of your plumbing system or appliances is usually covered. You’ll be covered by your homeowners insurance policy if you have frozen pipes that burst in a heated home. Homeowners insurance will typically cover the cost of interior repairs, like floors and walls, and the cost of damaged belongings.
Keep in mind your home insurance won’t cover the damaged pipes or the source of the water damage. You’ll need to hire a professional plumber to repair the damaged appliance and use personal funds to cover it.
Insurance coverage for storm damage is typically circumstantial, so it’s crucial to document the evidence and situation thoroughly to get the most out of your claim. The damage has to be sudden and not caused by negligence to be covered.
Your insurance policy will cover storm damage in a case where a storm caused a window to break and allowed incoming rain to damage your personal belongings. In this situation, your insurance should cover wall and floor repairs, as well as the cost of damaged furniture.
Extinguishing A Fire
If a house fire occurs that’s not caused by negligence, your homeowners insurance will pay for water damage caused by extinguishing the fire. If you were to have a grease fire and water is used by firefighters to put it out, any damages caused by the water, including personal property, should be covered.
However, if the fire was caused by personal negligence, your policy may not cover the fire or water damages. For example, if your stovetop was recently inspected and it was noted that a part was in need of repair and you chose not to repair it, your damage claim could be denied.
If you have an overflow of water from appliances, your dwelling coverage will most likely cover damage repairs, but only if the overflow was accidental and sudden. If your washer is the source of the issue, your policy should cover any personal property damage and damage to the room, including cabinetry and the dryer.
Your insurance policy won’t cover damages if the overflow was caused by negligence. If your appliance was previously inspected and required a part to be replaced, but you chose not to replace it, your policy won’t cover the damage.
Discuss with your insurance provider about what is covered and not covered under your policy for more details.
Water Damage Not Covered By Insurance
If the water damage is caused by a lack of maintenance or negligence, your policy most likely won’t cover the damages. Here are some scenarios that you won’t be covered for:
- Sewer pipe or water backups
- Ground seepage
- Frozen pipes in an unheated home
- Preventable or obvious pipe leakage
- Water damage caused by negligence
How To File A Water Damage Claim
Follow the steps below to learn how to file a water damage insurance claim.
- If your pipes burst, turn off the water in your home to prevent additional damage immediately.
- Make any temporary repairs. For example, if a storm caused a tree to fall into your window and allowed rain to damage your belongings, use plastic sheeting to cover the window to prevent more water from seeping through.
- Remove all damaged and wet items from the area, but keep them for evidence for your insurance claim.
- Remove water by drying water-soaked areas to prevent mold. You can rent a water vacuum to remove stagnant water.
- To file a water damage claim, contact your insurance carrier. Complete all required claim documents. You’ll need videos and pictures of the damage for documentation.
- Contact a claims adjuster and schedule an appointment. The claims adjuster will thoroughly inspect the water damage to determine how much money you’ll receive from your insurance company.
How To Prevent Water Damage
Perform the following maintenance checks regularly to prevent future water damage.
- Seal your windows: Seal all your windows inside and outside your home to avoid water seepage.
- Inspect your roof regularly: Check your roof for missing shingles or damage. Older roofs should be professionally evaluated every 1 – 2 years in case a roof replacement is needed. Newer roofs should be inspected every 5 years.
- Check exposed pipes: Examine your exposed pipes for visible leaks or cracks. Replace or repair damaged pipes.
- Install gutter guards: Gutter guards will prevent debris from hindering water flow. Check your downspouts every couple of months to remove debris. They should be positioned to divert water away from your home.
- Install an emergency pressure release valve: If you have cold winters, install an emergency pressure release valve to your plumbing system to prevent bursting pipes.
- Shut off the water before a vacation: Before you travel for long periods, shut off the water that runs to your washing machines and refrigerator.
Water Damage Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some more answers to your water damage insurance questions, from snow coverage to mold removal.
Does Home Insurance Cover Flooding?
In most cases, your standard homeowners insurance policy won’t cover any water damage caused by flooding. This includes storm surges created by hurricanes, high tides and flash floods.
If you live in a special flood hazard area, or are using a government-backed loan to purchase a home, you may be required to purchase flood insurance.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage From Snow?
Insurance coverage for water damage caused by snow will be based on circumstances. Here are some examples of damages that should be covered by your insurance:
- The weight of snow on your roof causes a part to collapse.
- An ice storm creates ice dams along the roof, causing water seepage.
If your roof had been previously inspected and needed repairs, but you neglected to repair it, you may not receive coverage.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover The Removal Of Mold Caused By Water Damage?
Mold remediation may be covered if caused by storm damage. This will depend on your policy and the cause of the mold. The removal of mold may also be covered if the mold damage has been hidden from plain sight, like below your floorboards or on your rooftop.
It won’t be covered if it’s caused by the lack of maintenance or neglect. Be sure to discuss with your home insurance provider to see how mold is covered under your policy.
When financing a home, we recommend discussing with your insurance provider about the best standard homeowners policy for you.