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Water Damage: What’s Covered?

water damage homeWater is essential to life, but it can also be a powerful, damaging force.  What happens if water damages your home?  How do you know what your homeowners insurance covers?

Consider The Source

When looking at homeowners insurance coverage for water damage, it’s important to consider the source of the water.

  • Generally speaking, a standard homeowners insurance policy covers damage from water that comes from the top down, like rain or a broken pipe.
  • Homeowners insurance never covers damage from water that comes from the bottom up, such as an overflowing river.  To be covered for damage caused by a flood, you’ll need a separate flood insurance policy.
  • Was the water from a plugged sewer pipe? Most policies do not cover damage from backed up sewers and drains. However, you can purchase an additional rider to cover this kind of damage.

Consider the Cause

You also need to look at what caused the damage. If, for instance, a windstorm or hail damaged your roof and water leaked into your home, your homeowners insurance would likely cover the damage. But if your roof is leaking because it’s old and needs to be replaced, then you’d likely be responsible for the costs. Homeowners policies generally don’t cover damage resulting from lack of maintenance.

Consider the Timeline

When did the damage occur?  If the damage was sudden and accidental, it’s likely covered by your homeowner’s policy. For example, if your new dishwasher suddenly malfunctions and floods your kitchen, your policy likely covers it.

However, if the damage is the result of leaking water over time, it’s probably not covered. Let’s say a pipe under your sink had a slow leak that you didn’t notice until your foot goes through your rotten kitchen floor.  Even though your discovery was sudden, the damage occurred over time and was the result of maintenance issues, so your policy most likely would not cover it.

Be Prepared

With so many factors to consider, how can you be prepared in case of water damage?

  • Proactive home maintenance is one of the best ways to prevent water damage. Check your pipes and roof for leaks often and fix small problems right away.
  • Consult a professional.  If you are unsure what your policy covers or if you need additional insurance, contact us for help.

If you do experience water damage, call your agent right away for help deciphering what your policy will and won’t cover.