Water damage- Seven Home Insurance Scenarios

Water damage- Seven Home Insurance Scenarios

By David Libowitz

Water damage to your residence can be very costly and is not as uncommon as you may think. Unfortunately, many insureds are not aware of what is covered and what is excluded in their policy. 

Not all homeowner policies are alike. There may be exclusions, varying deductibles and limitations when it comes to water damage. Homeowners insurance will typically cover water damage claims that are the result of “sudden and accidental” occurrences. Wear and tear or neglect is usually excluded. There are several types of water damage that may be covered under your homeowner policy:

1) A toilet, tub, sink or washing machine overflows, flooding part of the house and the basement. The damage to the toilets, sinks, tubs and washing machine as well as the water damage to home furnishings would be covered by the homeowner’s policy as long as it is “sudden or accidental.” Usually, water from a broken appliance will be covered. However, if the overflow was caused by sewer blockage or poor maintenance of the washer, the claim may be denied.

2) Water heaters and pipes burst due to a severe drop in temperature and the floor is covered in several inches of water. Usually the homeowner’s policy for both the water heater and pipes and the resulting damage to walls, flooring and home furnishings would be covered. If, however, the residence was unoccupied or left without heat, your claim could be denied because you did not take the necessary steps to prevent the accident.

3) What if your backyard pool overflowed? Swimming pool leaks are not usually a named peril. If the overflow was caused by a tree limb falling on the pool or its pump the damage to the pool, water damage to your basement and your personal property will probably be covered. If the cause were from a flash flood or river overflowing no coverage would be provided. 

While most claims will be covered by your homeowner’s policy, there are exceptions and exclusions.

While most claims will be covered by your homeowner’s policy, there are exceptions and exclusions

4) Water from a rainstorm has leaked through the roof and causes considerable damage to both the roof and inside the home. The interior damage to the home and it‘s furnishings would be covered. The damage to the roof, however, would not be covered since that would be considered a maintenance issue. However, the roof would be covered if the damage was from rainstorm leakage caused by wind, hail or falling trees. 

5) Fire sprinklers, air-conditioning and heating unit pipes can burst. As long as the units have been maintained, these types of losses are typically covered in the homeowner’s policy. 

6) Homes can experience damage from lakes, rivers and washes when they overflow. This type of damage is considered flood damage. Homeowner policies do not cover flood damage. You can purchase this coverage separately from the federal government. The National Flood Insurance Program offers this coverage.

7) Sewer and sump pump back-up is another peril that the homeowner faces. Homeowner’s policies do not cover sewer or sump pump back-ups. Homeowners may not realize that they are actually responsible for the maintenance of the sewer line that runs between their home and the sewer main. The only coverage that may be available would be Loss of Use. Some insurance carriers will allow you to purchase an endorsement that includes sewers and drains. 

If you experience any of these losses, you should take the necessary steps to protect your property from further damage. It is advised that you take pictures of the damage before you make any adjustments to limit further damage.

While most claims will be covered by your homeowner’s policy, there are exceptions and exclusions. Read you policy and discuss any questions you may have with your insurance agent.

For more information on water damage contact your local SERVPRO.

About author

David Libowitz

David is the Owner of SERVPRO of West Palm Beach, and was recently appointed the Chairman of the Advisory Board of the University of Miami Brain Tumor Initiative. David graduated from Tufts University with a B.A. in Economics and The Wharton School with an MBA in Finance. David has an extensive career investing in and working with companies to facilitate their growth, both organically and through acquisitions. David spent 11 years at Warburg Pincus (one of the largest private equity firms in the world), and worked his way up from Associate to Partner. Over the course of his career, David has served on the Board of Directors of 15 private and public companies and was also the CEO of a start-up software company. David has IICRC Water Damage Restoration and Applied Structural Drying Certifications and also holds a Lead Based Paint Certification. http://www.servprowestpalmbeachfl.com

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