Does Insurance Cover Water Damage

Does insurance cover water damage? Maybe. Insurance policies vary depending on the level of coverage you selected, the laws of the state in which you live, and the cause of the water damage. It’s important to understand the details of your insurance policy and applicable laws and regulations if you want to make a claim based on water damage to your home.

When Does Insurance Cover Water Damage

There is no one guaranteed list of covered water damage because of the many variables involved. A homeowner in Maine may have very different results than a homeowner in Florida when trying to make a claim against their insurance policy due to water damage. Anyone with homeowners insurance should read their policy carefully and call their insurance agent if they have questions, preferably before you need to make a claim so there are no surprises.

Typically, homeowners insurance will cover water damage that is based on “a covered peril.” Covered perils are usually sudden accidents or incidents that are unforeseeable and not due to neglect or failure to perform home maintenance. Covered perils for insurance purposes may include: 

  • A burst pipe, broken water heater, or washing machine water line failure that damages the walls, floors or ceiling
  • Heavy ice or snow breaking through the roof
  • Water damage due to putting out a fire in the home
  • Defective HVAC or sprinkler system that creates an overflow of water or steam

Your insurance policy may have differing levels of coverage for personal property (the things you put in your home such as personal belongings and furniture) and the dwelling (the structure of your home).

It’s crucial to read and understand your policy. No matter the cause, insurance won’t pay for repairs unless the amount exceeds your deductible. And if the amount reaches a set maximum, your insurance won’t pay any more.

For example, if your policy has a $1,000 deductible and your home sustains $2,500 in covered water damage, you’ll pay $1,000 towards repairs and your insurance will pay the remaining $1,500. But if the damages sustained extend beyond your coverage limit (whatever that amount is), that’s all your insurance will pay, regardless of how much damage is done.

water damaged ceilingWater Damaged Ceiling

What Water Damage WON’T Be Covered?

Most homeowners insurance won’t cover water damage caused by “gradual damage” or neglect of regular home maintenance. If you have a pipe in your bathroom or basement that leaks over a period of weeks or months and causes water damage, your insurance carrier will expect that you should have repaired the leak and thus won’t cover the damages. Similarly, a roof that is overdue to be replaced and allows rainwater to leak into your attic won’t be covered by your insurance.

When it comes to natural floods, your standard homeowners insurance policy won’t cover any damages you may face.  Flood insurance is usually available for an additional cost. If your house is in a known flood plain (an area proven to flood seasonally or during heavy rains), flood insurance may be required by law because the risk of flooding is so great. Flood insurance provides coverage in case a storm, hurricane, snow or other act of nature causes rising water levels to flood your home.

A good rule of thumb is that damage due to water coming from inside your home is more likely to be covered than damage due to water from outside your home. Burst pipe? Yes. Backed up sewer line? Probably not. Floods? Not unless you purchase a separate flood insurance policy.

water damage from hurricane sandyWater Damage From Hurricane Sandy (New York, 2012)

What About Mold Coverage?

Mold that results from water damage MAY be covered, depending on the source of the water, the insurance rules in your state and the level of coverage you selected with your policy. Any mold growth that results from gradual damage will probably not be covered. Mold that results from sudden and accidental water damage might be. Check your policy to be sure.

If you discover that your insurance policy doesn’t provide adequate mold damage coverage, you can add mold coverage by buying an endorsement for an additional fee. Major mold remediation can cost thousands of dollars, so a mold coverage endorsement could save you a lot of money in the long term.

How to File a Water Damage Claim

If your home has been damaged by water, the most important first step is to stop the source of the water (if possible) and dry the area as much as you can. The longer the water is allowed to infiltrate your home or sit in wet areas, the greater the extent of the damage. With each passing hour, repairs become more extensive and expensive.

Once you’ve stopped the water, you can begin to file your insurance claim. Take photos to have proof of the accident and show the extent of the damage. Mold is a frequent consequence of water damage, and photos can be helpful to keep track of any mold growth.

Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. You can share the photos with your agent, and the company will likely send someone called an insurance adjuster to survey the damage. Other than cleaning up the water, avoid conducting repairs or throwing things away until the insurance adjuster has visited.

How to Get Help

In addition to calling your insurance company, you can call 877-960-0491 to get immediate, 24-hour assistance in dealing with water damage in your home. You’ll be connected to a local water damage professional who can dry out your house and make all necessary repairs. These water damage experts will work directly with your insurance company for reimbursement. The inspection of your home and estimate are free.

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