Money & Finance

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?

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Worried woman mopping up water on the floor from a burst pipe with sponge with hole in the wall in the background
Things can get pretty murky when trying to determine what is and isn’t covered by insurance.

Torrential rains flooded your garage and basement over the weekend, causing some structural water damage to your home. You have a home insurance policy, but is water damage covered by homeowners insurance? We’re here to give you some helpful information and guidelines. Read on to find the answers you need.

What Type Of Water Damage Is Covered By Homeowners Insurance?

Many homeowners grapple with the same question, “Does insurance cover water damage?” The problem is that it can depend on many factors, including the type of policy you have. There are certain situations that almost always receive coverage, and the general rule is that if water damage is sudden or accidental, it’s more likely to be covered.

3 Situations Where Water Damage Is Covered

  1. Damage due to extreme rainfall or heavy melting snow
  2. Excessive snow on your roof
  3. Sudden water damage from a roof leak, poorly sealed window or door, burst pipe, faulty sump pump, or other plumbing issues could all qualify. But you most likely will need to prove that the leak was caused by faulty equipment or poor repair work to qualify for a claim.

Keep in mind that the type of homeowner’s policy you hold will determine your deductible, as well as any payout limits for specific claims.

What Type Of Water Damage Isn’t Covered?

So, what isn’t covered? And how do you know whether or not to make a claim? Unfortunately, the answer to these questions can be complicated and can depend on your particular insurance company or policy.

3 Types Of Water Damage That Are Not Covered

  1. Damage caused by natural flooding from an external body of water: You must purchase a separate flood insurance policy if you live in a low-lying area along a river, lake, stream or ocean. The average flood insurance policy premium is $700 per year, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
  2. Damage from ongoing and unresolved maintenance issues: If you’ve had a leaky pipe or rain seeping through a window frame on a regular basis, for example, you most likely won’t be covered.
  3. Water backup from an outside sewer or drain: Most standard homeowners policies don’t provide coverage if water backs up into your home through an outside sewer or drain. While many insurance providers offer supplemental sewer backup coverage, the cost varies from $50-250 per year.

How Can I Repair Major Water Damage?

Whether your claim gets approved or not, you still have to act fast to fix the water damage to your home. In the case of major flooding, the sooner you get on it, the better. In minor water damage emergencies, you can get away with vacuuming up the water quickly from a flooded dishwasher, for example. But in many cases, your cleanup is more complicated, which involves removing standing water, replacing carpeting and flooring, and repairing the significant structural damage.

8 Common Household Items Subject To Water Damage

  1. Walls
  2. Floors (hardwood and carpeting)
  3. Shelves
  4. Drapes
  5. Ductwork
  6. Heating and air conditioning systems
  7. Furniture
  8. Clothing

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends throwing out carpeting and other materials that haven’t been completely cleaned and dried within 48 hours of water damage. Standing water and wet materials are a breeding grounds for viruses, bacteria, and mold, which can cause disease and allergic reactions. In severe cases, you should consider hiring a water damage restoration company.

What Is A Water Damage Restoration Service?

In cases of serious damage, a water damage restoration company can provide you with services you may not be able to take care of yourself quickly. The company will go through water damage remediation, also referred to as the water mitigation process. This process can involve a thorough inspection of the damage, an assessment of what needs to be done to rid your house of any potential contaminants, a recovery estimate, and completion of the restoration.

How Much Does Water Damage Restoration Cost?

Obviously, the cost depends on the level of damage. In cases of standing water, the National Flood Service estimates that the average water damage restoration cost is between $3.75-$7.00 per square foot, depending on the severity of the situation (severity ranges from cosmetic to mold remediation and everything in between).

Check out the video below from RestorationEze, a national water damage restoration company, on how they estimate the water mitigation process.

Who Provides The Best Home Warranty Coverage?

Our experts review over a dozen companies in our regularly updated home warranty reviews. Find out the difference between home warranty coverage and homeowner’s insurance, find out what’s covered, how much plans typically cost, and who we recommend as the best providers.

Sally Jones

While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s graduate school for journalism and public relations, Sally began a long career researching and writing about hard-to-understand topics, such as insurance and finance. Her additional experience in marketing, fundraising, public relations and financial planning at various foundations and nonprofit organizations over the years has given her the practical tools to inform consumers about making the smartest business and personal financial decisions. Her work has appeared in many notable media outlets, including The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, People, Forbes, Huffington Post, and more. Speaking of smart living — growing up in the (at-the-time) per-capita murder capital of the U.S. (Richmond, VA) taught her a thing or two about the need for personal and home safety. Sally stays on top of all the latest gadgets and services to protect her and her teenage daughters from potential predators and thieves. And she brings this knowledge to every article she writes.

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