When it comes to water, the last place you want it is leaking somewhere in your home. While you may have insurance for certain causes of water damage, it is important to make sure you understand what is covered and that you take advantage of any additional endorsements that are available to help protect your home.
What is Covered?
Whether or not water damage is covered by your insurance policy depends on the source of the damage, your specific policy, and whether the damage was gradual or accidental and sudden.
Sudden or Accidental Damage
A standard homeowners insurance policy generally covers water damage that occurs due to “sudden or accidental discharge” of water, not resulting from damage from age or weathering. This could include a water heater rupture, a burst pipe, or a washing machine hose failure. While the policy covers the resulting damages, it will not cover the actual source of the damage (i.e. it won’t pay to replace your water heater, the burst pipe, or your washing machine).
Gradual water damage is generally not covered by a standard homeowners policy. This is the type of damage that occurs over time due to unresolved maintenance issues or long-standing problems that went undetected.
Common examples include:
- Leaks in plumbing, including pipes, valves, and fixtures.
- Seepage through cracks in the foundation (through underground leaks from a sprinkler system, swimming pool, etc.).
- Leaks around windows, doors, or roofing.
- Mold, rot, or corrosion.
In some cases, gradual water damage may be covered if it resulted from an original claim that was covered.
Optional Endorsement Options
Some insurance companies offer an optional endorsement for water backup coverage. This type of endorsement may cover the following:
- Sewer line in the street backs up and causes an overflow through a drain inside the home.
- Sump pump gets overwhelmed and causes an overflow into the home’s basement.
Some insurance companies offer an additional optional endorsement for damage to underground service lines. This type of endorsement may cover water lines, waste disposal lines, and more.
If the sewer line breaks in the street causing water to flow over the surface of your property and into your home, this is generally not covered by a standard homeowners policy or optional endorsements.
Your homeowners policy will pay for covered damages if they exceed your deductible. Once your deductible is met, the policy will pay for covered claims up to the limit specified in your policy.
Storm-Related Water Damage vs. Flooding
If water damage occurs due to wind or lightning creating an opening in your home to allow water in, this is considered storm-related damage and is generally covered by a standard policy. A good rule of thumb is “did the water hit your home before hitting the ground?” If so, it is considered storm-related damage.
A flood is considered as external water rising onto your property due to an overflowing river, tsunami, mudslide, or heavy rain. Water damage due to flooding is not covered by a standard homeowners policy. Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Talk with your insurance agent to determine if you are in a qualifying community for the NFIP. To learn more, visit https://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program.
Review Your Policy
It is important to understand what is covered by your standard homeowners policy and what is covered by optional endorsements. Coverage and policy options vary by state and by insurance companies, so it is very important to discuss your policy and the options available to you with your insurance agent to ensure your home is protected.
Protecting Your Home
In addition to having the right insurance, it is important to take proper precautions to protect your home from water damage. Here are a few tips:
- Pay attention to your water bill – a sudden, large, unexplained fluctuation could mean you have a water leak somewhere in your home or on your property.
- Conduct regular maintenance, including fixing leaky faucets, regularly changing appliance water hoses, and replacing worn-out appliances.
- Be familiar with your home inside and out – doing so will help you recognize if something just doesn’t look right that could be a sign of an underlying issue.
- Purchase a leak defense system. Some policies may be eligible for a discount if you install one; contact your agent for more details.
Remember: minor leaks are not minor problems. Putting off maintenance issues or inadequate repairs can lead to costly water bills and major damage. Take care of issues as they arise. For more in-depth tips on protecting your home from water damage, view these articles on our news blog:
Contact your Leavitt Group insurance agent to discuss this coverage and ensure you have the right insurance for your home.
© 2018 Leavitt Group. The coverages discussed herein are for illustrative purposes only. The terms and conditions of your specific policy may differ from those described. Please consult the provisions of your policy for the terms, conditions, and exclusions that apply to your coverage.