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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?

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Overhead shot of houses floodedTorrential 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? Things can get pretty murky when trying to determine what is and isn’t covered, but 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. These situations include:

  • Damage due to extreme rainfall or heavy melting snow
  • Excessive snow on your roof
  • 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.

Tip: 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. But here are some general guidelines to help you:

  • 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 is $540 per year, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
  • 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.
  • 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. But many insurance providers offer supplemental sewer backup coverage for an average of $50 per year.

How Do You 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 clean up is more complicated, which involve removing standing water, replacing carpeting and flooring and repairing the significant structural damage. Items that you may need to replace include:

  • Walls
  • Floors (hardwood and carpeting)
  • Shelves
  • Drapes
  • Ductwork
  • Heating and air conditioning systems
  • Furniture
  • 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 ground 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 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 Insurance Program estimates that the average water damage restoration cost is $7,800.00 (with standing water of one to four inches). This figure includes drying out and rebuilding. The drying out process alone averages $2,700.

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

How do you feel about how homeowners insurance covers (or doesn’t cover) water damage?

Sally is a passionate writer but her interests do not stop there. She spends a lot of time daydreaming about the beach, however, she spends most of her time taking advantage of all the activities her town has to offer in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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1 Comment on "Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?"

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Great article, it’s been raining like crazy in my area and lots of flooding on our street. Going to look into this so we’re not flooding in bills from water damage!