It’s every homeowner’s worst nightmare: the basement is underwater. Something has gone horribly, horribly wrong, and now you have a swimming pool inside your house. Well, you always wanted a swimming pool, but this isn’t quite what you had in mind. Anyways, now you have a question: what types of water damage are covered by home insurance?
Let’s find out what kind of water damage your home insurance protects you from.
First things first: What kind of damage do you have?
That’s the million-dollar (hopefully not literally) question.
The type of water damage is the determining factor when it comes to answering the “is-it-covered” question. Home insurance is intended to cover uncontrollable, unforeseen, and unpreventable occurrences, like if there’s a fire or if a tree falls on your house. So, if the water damage was “sudden or accidental” it should be covered because it was out of your control.
Let’s say that your swimming pool basement was caused by a burst pipe – and it was sudden and accidental. The damage could be covered. However, the broken piece of the appliance or the appliance itself may not be covered.
But – yes, there’s a but – water damage can often get tricky. You have to read your policy very carefully to see what’s covered and what’s excluded. You can call your agent to go over it with you.
What kinds of water damage is never covered?
There are a few types of water damage that are simply excluded.
1. Gradual water damage.
If the water damage to your home is caused by something gradual that has to do with home maintenance, it will most likely not be covered – for example, a slowly leaking pipe that wreaks havoc on your bathroom. Even if the damage is “new” to you when you discover the problem, it may not be covered if it was an ongoing issue.
Here are some other scenarios.
- Water seeping into cracks in the house’s foundation
- Water leaking from a roof that shows clear signs of needed maintenance
- General lack of maintenance
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2. Sewer backup or sump pump failure.
Okay. This is probably not something you want to think about, but what if the sewer failed and sent icky, dirty sewer water back into your home? Not only is that gross, it’s highly damaging to your home and dangerous to your family’s health because of how unsanitary it is.
Unfortunately, sewer backup is typically not covered. You can, however, add an endorsement to your policy so that you would have coverage. (An endorsement is basically an addition to your policy that adjusts your coverage.) So, be prepared for this most unpleasant of situations by adding an endorsement for sewer backup.
Here’s another one that gets tricky:
Flooding is not covered by home insurance.
In the insurance world, flooding has a unique definition. It has to do with how much normally dry land has been affected by excess waters, and how many properties have been affected.
But don’t worry:
If you live in a flood-prone area and want to protect your home against flooding, you can purchase flood insurance. You can go through an agent and get coverage through the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program.)
If you file a claim for water damage and it gets denied…
If you file a claim for water damage only to have it denied, make sure that you ask why the claim was denied. There are a lot of people who are involved with claims on the insurance side of things, so figure out where the information is coming from. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if things are getting confusing or if you don’t understand why so-and-so is saying this, but so-and-so said that.
If it’s your belief that your home insurance should have covered the damage, you can always ask your agent about it. If all else fails, you can go to your state’s insurance commissioner to get some advice or to file a complaint.
Pro tip: Find out if there’s an endorsement that would have covered the damage your home sustained and consider adding it to protect your home in the future.
Like we said, water damage is often a bit confusing when it comes to home insurance. Or maybe it’s home insurance when it comes to water damage…anyways, the best thing to do is study up on your policy and ask your agent or broker to go over your coverages (and any exclusions.) Preferable before your basement turns into a swimming pool.
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