Water damage from a broken pipe doesn’t just ruin plumbing and carpets; it can also cause significant structural damage to your home or force you to relocate for several weeks until repairs are complete. Attorney Bill Voss explains what is and isn’t covered when internal flooding causes property damage to your home.
Types of Insurance That Might Cover Water Damage to Your Home
Fortunately, flooding from internal water sources like your own plumbing is included in most homeowners’ insurance policies. Standard coverage should provide payment for water damage:
- To the structure. Your Dwelling coverage pays for any damage to the structure of your home, including the roof, interior and exterior walls, ceilings, and floors. Dwelling insurance may also cover appliances built into the house, such as the furnace or boiler.
- That ruins clothes and furnishings. Property coverage reimburses homeowners for the cleaning, repairing, or replacing of damaged furniture or personal property. Items such as clothing, seating, tables, appliances, TVs, computers, or electronics should be fully reimbursed, but some high-end items may only be covered up to a specific limit.
- That makes your home temporarily unlivable. If your policy includes a Loss of Use clause, you can collect reimbursement for additional living expenses while temporarily displaced. Typical expenses include hotel bills, travel, and food.
Possible Exclusions to Homeowners’ Water Damage Coverage
Insurance companies are particular about what kinds and extent of property damage they will cover. If you’re filing a claim with your homeowners’ insurance company, you may be forced to pay for some or all of the losses out of your pocket due to:
- Gradual damage. Insurers only pay for losses stemming from a single event. If a slow leak caused the damage, your claim may be denied because you should have noticed the defect and remedied it before it caused significant damage. Insurance adjusters will investigate the site carefully for signs of rust or corrosion related to failed maintenance.
- Burst pipes in winter. Frozen pipes are a common cause of flooding, and these claims are generally covered. However, insurers impose exceptions if the pipe bursts because your home wasn’t heated properly or you completely shut off your hot water system. If your actions contributed to the accident, your claim for water damage due to frozen pipes may be denied because you should have been aware of the risk and taken care to prevent it.
- Drying and mold mitigation. Although mold is a common and hazardous side effect of flooding, many homeowners’ policies offer little to no mold damage coverage. Drying out wood, plaster, or drywall and preventing mold growth can cost over $10,000, but insurers often limit mold remediation payments to just a few thousand dollars.
- Sewage backup. Homeowners' insurance generally does not cover damage from a flooded or backed-up sewage system. However, additional coverage for a sump pump or sewer line backup may be available as a rider to your policy.
- High deductibles. Many people are never able to access the coverage they pay for because the total cost of the damage is less than the amount of the deductible. If your deductible is so high it prevents you from making a claim, consider changing your coverage or only placing high deductibles on optional coverage.
Let Us Advise You on Your Homeowners’ Property Damage Claim
If you have been paying your premiums for years only to have the insurance company deny your claim, the Voss Law Firm can help. We read your policy carefully to determine your coverage and negotiate fiercely with the insurance provider to get everything you are owed.
Call us at (888) 614-7730 or complete our contact form today to get answers to your questions, or start reading your copy of our free book, Tricks of the Trade: How Insurance Companies Deny, Delay, Confuse, and Refuse.