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.
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.