Does homeowners insurance cover water damage?
Unless you have an open-peril or all-risk policy, your home insurance coverage will only protect property that’s damaged by specifically named perils, about 16 in total on standard HO3 policies. The dwelling provision of HO3s typically covers the structure of your home on an open-peril basis, but it’s common for even the broad HO3 policies to limit the personal property provision to named perils. Luckily, the following water damage perils will probably be “named” in the personal property section of your policy.
When do homeowners insurance cover water damage?
Standard home insurance policies require water damage to be sudden and internal, with the requirement that the water has never touched the outside ground. This means the water damage must be the result of one of the 16 perils covered by your homeowner insurance, such as sudden and accidental tearing, cracking or burning.
When water damage is covered by homeowners insurance:
Snow or rain
Plumbing: Burst pipes, faulty plumbing and frozen plumbing
Water damage from extinguishing a fire
A leaking roof (coverage would apply to the home interior, not the roof itself)
An accidental overflow of an appliance or fixture (toilet, washing machine, bathtub)
Mold (only when it’s the result of covered water damage)
So when are the cases that homeowners insurance does not cover water damage?
Neglect or lack of maintenance resulting in water damage will mean you’re personally on the hook for the cost of repairs. Water damage isn’t always covered by your home insurance if it’s not the result of an accident or sudden, unexpected occurrence. Certain situations where homeowner’s insurance does not cover water damage are:
Water or sewer pipe backups - Water that overflows from sewage or drains and finds its way into your home is also not covered
Flooding - Floods, regardless of how the water originated, are excluded from every basic homeowners insurance policy.
Standard policies won’t cover water damage resulting from a flood, either; for that, you’ll need to purchase additional flood insurance, especially if you reside in a high-risk area prone to flooding (like Louisiana homeowners).
Mold from water damage
Mold is all too common and is often found after water damages your home, but it’s often not covered by homeowner’s insurance. Though it’s expensive to rid your home of a mold infestation, costing upwards of $30,000, your home insurance might help cover removal of the mold — depending on what caused the mold in the first place.
How to file a claim after water damage
Now that you can identify when water damage is covered by your homeowner’s insurance, it’s imperative that you to contact your insurer as soon as possible once you discover water damage in your home. You should take pictures of the affected area and everything that was damaged, as well as where the water came from, such as the burst pipe or Leaky roof and home insurance.
If you have pictures from before the incident, you should find them so you can show the assessor what the area looked like before being damaged. Pictures are especially useful if mold develops in the future, and can support your claim that the mold grew as a result of water damage and not from neglect.
Your insurer will ask you questions about your claim that will help them decide if it’s covered by your policy. An adjuster will then be dispatched to assess the damage. If you need to make any urgent repairs before the adjuster has a chance to see the damage, be sure pictures are taken before the repairs are done, and that you keep the receipts for any materials you purchased.
You can also choose to hire a contractor to evaluate the water damage and give you an estimate for the cost to repair it. This is useful to have in case the insurance adjuster’s quote for coverage is too low, and allows you the opportunity to negotiate with your insurer.
Be sure to keep pictures of the water damage and all documents associated with the damage and your claim in the event mold grows in the future. Your insurance company may be hesitant to agree that any potential mold is the result of prior water damage, but having pictures and records will serve as valuable proof of your claim. If the mold is deemed to have come from water damage, some insurers may make you file a second claim of water damage instead, requiring you to pay another deductible before remediation takes place.
Ray is charged with the management and oversight of corporate outreach into the community as it relates to new business, as well as the forward direction of the company. Ray has been with Altieri Insurance Consultants since 2003 where he has performed a multitude of duties providing a foundation to his growth within the company during those years. View Bio