The obvious answer to this question should be a simple yes, but it actually “depends.” The way your home insurance policy protects you from water damage is complicated and depends on the situation and source of the water. Under the average home policy, if the damage caused by water is considered sudden, accidental, and comes from inside your home, this is normally covered. However, if the damage is the result of flooding from outside the home, then this is likely covered by a flood insurance policy. On the other hand, if the damage is the result negligent maintenance or repair, there may be no coverage.
Water damage is one of the most commons home insurance claims. If you notice water damage in the home, like with any other claim, you’ll need to immediately notify your insurance carrier. In fact, you should also begin to mitigate the damages to prevent it from getting worse. Once the insurance carrier is notified they will dispatch an adjuster who will inspect the damage and determine whether you’re covered for water damage. Coverage for water damage usually depends on three key factors:
1. Policy type or endorsement:
When you purchase a home insurance policy, you must understand exactly what type of water damage is covered. For instance, if you have a sump pump for siphoning water from beneath your house, there may be little or no coverage without the proper endorsement. Therefore, if the pump breaks down, and your basement floods, you may not have coverage without the proper endorsement. Some insurance carries make “water back-up coverage” optional, or offer it with a small sub-limit that can be endorsed to increase the limit for a small premium. Water back-up coverage may not only provide coverage for your sump-pump, but it would also protect you in the event of a clogged sewer.
2. What is the source of the damage:
Where the water comes from is particularly important when it comes to water damage claims. For instance, if the source of the damage comes from inside your home you’ll likely be covered by your homeowners insurance. Two good examples would be a burst water pipe under the kitchen sink, or a ruptured appliance water hose. Also, leaking roofs are generally covered by your homeowners insurance policy as well. However, if the water damage is coming from sources outside the house, like tidal surges, overflowing lakes and rivers, this is typically handled by flood or windstorm insurance.
3. Was the damage sudden and accidental vs. gradual:
Your homeowners insurance isn’t designed for gradual, wear and tear damages. This is true for all types of claims, not just water damage claims. For example, if your dishwasher has been leaking for several months and you haven’t worked to replace the hoses or correct the problem, your homeowners insurance won’t cover the resulting damage or plumbing costs.
Alternatively, if a during the winter a frozen pipe bursts and floods your home, you’re generally covered. This type of accident is considered sudden and accidental, and not the product of wear-and-tear. However, as will all home maintenance items, you have responsibilities and should be maintaining your home regularly. There are preventative measures you can take to reduce your risk. If you don’t maintain your home well, this could impact coverage.
|Sudden pipe burst||Water back-up from sewer or drain|
|Fire extinguisher/hose damage from fires||Source of water damage (e.g. damaged appliances)|
|Damage caused by negligence|
Disclaimer: This list is not meant to be a full and complete list of things that are covered, nor is it a warranty that items will be covered. The insurance carrier and adjuster are the final arbiter of coverage, this list is for illustration purposes only.
Record the damage: Take videos and photos of the affected area and damaged belongings. Don’t alter the scene or remove ruined items until an adjuster has completed their inspection.
Prevent more damage: Take steps such as removing excess water and moving undamaged valuables to avoid further harm.
Take a home inventory Make a detailed list of all damaged items, including their make, model, age, and cash value, whenever possible.
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