If you’re a homeowner, one of the biggest threats to your home’s well-being is water lurking in places it shouldn’t. Whether that’s from a burst or leaking pipe, mold slowly growing somewhere, or a flood from a sudden storm, water has the power to do some significant damage.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the average loss for water damage and freezing claims is almost $11,000. It’s also five times more likely that your home will be damaged by water than it is for you to file a claim for theft. And it’s seven times more likely to experience water damage than fire.
If you’ve been a homeowner for long, you probably understand this all too well. We want to make sure you know what your homeowners insurance policy covers for you regarding water damage—and what it does not. Knowing which events fall under the scope of your policy will help you avoid unwanted surprises.
So the big question is, “Does homeowners insurance cover water damage?”
We know that’s not what you want to hear, but we’re planning on breaking this answer down for you. By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly when your coverage applies and when it doesn’t.
How does my homeowners insurance coverage work?
Let’s review homeowners insurance coverage briefly. Here are the different types of protection your policy should include:
- Dwelling coverage: pays for damage to your home
- Personal property coverage: pays for damage to your belongings
- Liability: coverage if someone is injured on your property
The two that apply in covering certain types of water damage are dwelling and personal property coverage.
What types of water damage does homeowners insurance cover?
A rule of thumb is that your insurance policy will cover water damage if it’s caused by a sudden and accidental event that comes from a source inside your home. Examples include burst pipes and malfunctioning appliances.
If the water source is outside your house, you likely won’t be covered—unless you carry a separate insurance policy like flood insurance.
Your dwelling coverage will reimburse you for damage to your home’s structure. Your personal property insurance will help pay for damage to any of your belongings that aren’t part of your home.
It gets tricky when distinguishing between “sudden or accidental” and what you’re responsible for. Here are several specific scenarios to help.
If rain enters your home suddenly—like if a tree falls on your roof, a window breaks, or wind rips shingles off your roof—your policy will probably cover water damage that ensues. If the leak was preexisting, however, you’ll be out of luck.
A Leaking Roof
If your roof springs a leak or a large branch falls on your home and water streams inside and causes damage, your insurance company should cover you. As long as you act immediately to minimize the damage.
Leaking Plumbing Pipes
If a pipe bursts or starts leaking suddenly due to an accident, your insurance should cover you.
Let’s say your washing machine malfunctions and overflows onto your floor and floods your laundry room. If the problem wasn’t due to your neglect in any way, your insurance should cover the damage.
If you have a fire in your house and firefighters use water to extinguish the flames, your insurance company should agree to pay for the resulting water damage.
Is mold from water damage covered?
All too often, mold is a byproduct of unseen problems in your home. It can grow slowly and build up gradually over a long period without you noticing. Your insurance won’t cover it in many cases because it will be considered a lack of maintenance.
An exception is if something happens suddenly that causes water damage and leads to mold growth. In this case, your insurance may cover the damage up to a certain amount, often around $5,000.
If you have a severe mold problem, remediation can cost much more. You may have the option of adding extra coverage for mold to your insurance policy if needed. Ask your insurance agent for more information.
When won’t my homeowners insurance cover water damage in my home?
Here are several scenarios where your standard homeowner insurance policy likely won’t cover water damage to your home.
Your standard homeowners policy won’t cover flood damage. If the area in which you live has been prone to flooding in the past, contact your insurance provider and ask if you can take out a separate policy for flood insurance.
Unresolved Maintenance Problems
If you don’t keep your house well maintained, your insurance won’t cover water damage that results from neglect. If you have a crack in a floor or wall, for example, and water seeps into your basement during a storm, you probably won’t be covered.
If you experience backup from your sewage system, you’ll need separate insurance to cover the damage. Ask your carrier about water or sewage backup insurance. This coverage can be added to your current homeowners policy. The coverage amount usually starts around $5,000 and can increase from there.
Slow leaks can cause extensive water damage—silently working in the background. By the time you notice the damage, it can be a big, costly job to repair it. You may run into mold issues, rotting wood, and extensive stains on ceilings and walls.
Some insurance companies may pay for you to repair the damage since the source was hidden from sight. Others may not, claiming that you didn’t keep up with regular maintenance and inspections to ensure your home was in good shape.
If you have a roof leak, for example, because your roof is old and needs to be replaced, your insurance company probably won’t cover the cost to repair the damage.
If you need to change your policy or shop for new homeowners insurance, contact Coverage Direct. We’re an independent insurance agency that will conveniently and impartially shop multiple companies to find you the best coverage for the best price.
Contact us today!