Is water damage covered by my homeowner’s insurance policy?
If you are like most Americans you’re not sure if you are covered when:
Your pipes burst, flooding and ruining things everywhere.
Your washing machine floods, ruining all the carpeting and woodwork.
Your sewer backs up, flooding the basement.
Your roof leaks in a heavy rainstorm and destroys furniture in your living room.
What are the chances I will have a water damage claim?
You have a 1 in 55 chance of making a claim for water damage this year, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Does my policy cover burst pipes?
The repair to the pipes is seldom covered, but the damage caused by the burst pipes is… usually. Keep reading to see where it might not be covered.
Burst pipes is one of the most common homeowners claims made. The good news is that this is usually covered. But it’s not always covered. For instance, if you knew that you had a slow and steady leak, but failed to repair it, some insurance companies can fight the claim and say that you had a duty to repair the leak before it burst.
Another duty that you have as a homeowner is to keep heat on in your house, even when you are gone on vacation. Normally, the damage caused by a pipe that bursts due to freezing is covered. But if you neglected to heat your home while away, the insurance carrier can deny a claim due to negligence.
Another (and common) burst pipe scenario is when a washing machine hose bursts, and gushes hundreds of gallons of water all over your home. (Of course, understanding Murphy’s Law, this will happen while you are gone all day visiting your grandkids.) Is this covered? Again, the answer is “usually” but not always. The insurance company has a right to question whether or not it was a pre-existing slow leak that should have been handled.
Is sewer backup covered?
Here’s an easy one. The answer is almost always: NO. But here’s the good news: you can often minimize this risk by asking your insurance agent if there is supplemental coverage for sewer backup. Also, if you live in a designated flood plain, and may be eligible for flood insurance. Of course, both of these types of insurance coverage for flooding and sewer backup will cost an additional premium. But flooding causes billions of dollars in damage in America each year. Check with your agent to see if this type of coverage is available.
Does my policy cover damage from a leaky roof?
Here we enter the area of – you’d better check with your agent ahead of time! Depending upon the type of policy you have, the cause of the leak, and the special deductibles you may have related to wind and hail damage, you could be unpleasantly surprised at claim time.
If you have a standard HO3 policy (or its equivalent) and your neighbor’s tree falls on your roof during a storm, and rain pours into your home… you are probably fine. (OK, we know you aren’t really “fine” and it would be an awful thing to happen!)
But if you have had an aging roof, and shingles are loosened in a storm, and a slow leak develops that you don’t notice for weeks, ruining drywall inside closets… it may not be so simple. As a homeowner, you have an obligation to repair your aging roof. And a claim needs to be related to a covered event.
How can I be safe from surprises?
Do the following:
Find your homeowners policy and turn to the exclusions page.
Read what’s not covered. This is not fun, but it will often tell you more than reading the “what’s covered” part. (Here’s an example.)
Don’t be “penny-wise and pound-foolish.”
Saving money on premiums now can often result in losing thousands of dollars later. You have a 1 in 15 chance of making a homeowners insurance claim this year. Don’t cut corners on your coverage.
Check on potential water damage hazards.
Then fix them. How long has it been since you replaced your washing machine hoses? Have you checked all the pipes under the sinks in your house? How old is your roof- do you really want to put off replacing it one more year?
Call Your Agent.
Call your insurance agent before that washing machine hose bursts, or before your neighbor’s tree falls on your home. Ask them, “Hey Insurance-Person, how can I make my homeowners coverage better?”
Remember: You should never rely solely on advice in a blog post (even ours) to know what is covered or not. Specific policy provisions always apply, along with written exclusions.
We are your “Insurance-Person”
You have a “person” for just about everything nowadays. Let us be your “Insurance-Person.” Call Whiteside Insurance at (877) 693-8882.