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Homeowners insurance is essential for protecting your home and finances, but it can also be complicated. This is especially true for homeowners insurance water damage coverage. Whether or not an insurer will cover a water damage claim largely depends on what caused the damage, as you'll see below.
Homeowners insurance water damage claims caused by a sudden, unexpected event typically fall under the policy's water damage coverage.
When a pipe breaks or bursts suddenly, this is usually covered by a policy's plumbing insurance coverage as it's considered an unforeseen accident.
A homeowners insurance policy usually covers rain damage as long as the damage was due to a covered peril, like a tornado ripping off a house roof and allowing water inside.
Water line breaks may be covered if they happen suddenly and not as a result of age or regular wear and tear. Water main breaks usually aren't covered as they are the municipality's responsibility to fix. Homeowners may be required to pay to fix the supply line that connects their home to the water main and this may be covered by their homeowners insurance.
If a frozen pipe bursts unexpectedly, insurance companies typically compensate the homeowner. The exception is if the homeowner did something to cause the pipes to freeze, like turning the heat off in the home when going on vacation.
A basic homeowners insurance policy often doesn't cover sump pump failure, but many insurers offer endorsements that allow customers to add this coverage if they're interested in it.
Homeowners insurance typically doesn't cover damage due to flooding or incidents arising due to a lack of maintenance.
Flood damage is a special case when it comes to homeowners insurance water damage coverage. While unexpected, it's listed as an exception in homeowners policies. Those interested in this type of coverage will have to purchase a special flood insurance policy. This may even be required for homeowners that live in areas prone to flooding. You might sometimes see this referred to as hurricane insurance, though there actually isn't such a thing as a hurricane insurance policy.
If a pipe is leaking due to a lack of proper maintenance, homeowners insurance usually won't cover it. It's up to the homeowner to take care of this issue before it causes water damage.
Homeowners insurance coverage for roofs typically doesn't extend to water damage caused by an old, leaking roof. That's why homeowners should replace their roof before it begins to leak.
A leaking water heater is another example of an unresolved maintenance issue that homeowners insurance wouldn't cover.
Leaking toilets aren't covered because the homeowner should address the issue before it causes any serious water damage to the home.
Water seepage in basements is also considered a maintenance issue. Homeowners should seek professional help at the first sign of basement water damage to get the problem fixed promptly.
Here's what homeowners need to know before they file an insurance claim for water damage.
There are two questions homeowners should ask themselves before filing a water damage insurance claim. The first is, "Is the water damage covered under my homeowners insurance policy?" The above information should give you some guidance on this, but you can always reach out to your insurer to ask if you're unsure. If it's not covered, there's no point in wasting time by filing a claim.
The second question homeowners should ask is, "Will it cost me less than my homeowners insurance deductible to repair the damage?" If so, it makes more sense to pay for the repairs out of pocket than to risk a premium rate hike. If you're not familiar with what homeowners insurance premiums or deductibles are, check out our homeowners insurance coverage overview.
Here are the basic steps to follow when filing a homeowners insurance water damage claim:
When a homeowners insurance water damage claim is denied, the homeowner should take the following steps:
Homeowners can take the following steps to prevent water damage claims in the first place:
That depends on the coverage the homeowner has and the cause of the water damage. Typically, sudden water leaks are covered while water damage due to a lack of maintenance isn't.
If the loss isn't covered, insurance companies won't pay anything. If it is covered, insurers will usually pay up to the limits listed in the homeowners insurance policy.
After the home insurance adjuster inspects the water damage, it will make a recommendation to the insurer as to how much it will cost to repair the damage. The homeowner can accept this or appeal if they don't believe it's enough.
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