Water Damage, What Does My Homeowners Policy Cover?

image shows house under water depicting home water damage

The Lowdown on Water Damage

For many homeowners understanding the difference between what water damage is and what it isn’t can be very complicated.  However, as the third leading cause of claims according to research by the Insurance Information Institute, it’s best to educate yourself and understand what water damage is and how to protect yourself.  

Why Be Concerned

First of all, one major thing to note right away is that water damage and flood damage are not the same. Most homeowners policies exclude flood altogether.  The National Flood Program describes flooding as a general and temporary condition where water or mudflow engulf two or more acres of usually dry land or two or more properties.
When it comes to water damage, it is defined by most insurance policies as sudden and accidental. Take, for example, a supply hose on a washing machine suddenly breaks, or a pipe bursts and water fills your laundry room floor.  This is considered sudden and accidental. On the flipside, neglecting a leaky toilet that eventually overflows your bathroom, is not sudden or accidental and would not be covered.
Frozen pipes are another common water damage claim. This happens when the buildup of water pressure caused by freezing water in an adjacent section of the pipe causes the pipes to burst.
Other Water Damage Scenarios Not Covered:

  • Damage from Unresolved Maintenance Issues
  • Repairing or Replacing the Source of the Water Damage
  • Water Backup from an Outside Sewer or Drain

Ways to Prevent Water Damage

Unfortunately, accidents will happen, but there are ways that you can reduce your risk of suffering a water damage claim.  
A good rule of thumb is if you are the owner of an older home, it’s smart to have a licensed plumber inspect plumbing systems every five years. Replacing older water heaters, using steel-braided supply lines on washing machines, and turning off the supply lines when the appliances are not in use are good ways to stop any leaks before they happen. Also, try not to run the dishwasher or washing machine if you are not going to be home.
However, if luck is not on your side and you suffer a water damage claim, be sure you have a licensed contractor assess the damage. Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations of a trusted company and give them a call. You don’t want to turn a bad situation into a nightmare by choosing the wrong company.

How Your Homeowners Policy Covers Water Damage

Dwelling Coverage

When a covered peril damages the structure of your home, payment will fall under the dwelling coverage amount. So, if a pipe suddenly bursts and ruins a wall, dwelling coverage also known as coverage A may help cover the cost of repairs.

Personal Property Coverage

Personal property or contents coverage helps pay for the loss or damage of your “stuff” if it occurs due to a covered peril. So if a pipe bursts resulting in a soaked computer or ruined bookcase, your contents coverage may help with the repair expenses or to replace those items.
Keep in mind that you are responsible for your deductible before your coverage kicks in before filings the claim make sure it will meet your deductible. If the overall damage is less than that, it isn’t worth turning in. You may want to weigh the options of paying for the costs out of pocket if they aren’t too much to keep a clean loss history and turning in the claim. If you are unsure what you should do, give us a call we will be happy to help.  

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Last Updated on July 9, 2021 by Veronica Moss

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