All homeowners insurance policies are different, and the only way that you can know exactly what your contract covers is to read your policy very closely or to call your insurance company and ask. However, many insurance policies are similar when it comes to water damage. Here are a few things you should know and look for:
- Water damage from flooding. When flooding in your area is responsible for property damage, that damage is almost never covered in your homeowners insurance policy. Instead, it is probably covered by a separate flood insurance policy. However, flood insurance coverage can be very complicated because the some of the consequences of flooding may not be covered by the flood insurance policy. This may mean that you need to submit different claims under each policy to get the full coverage for your losses in a flood.
- Water damage caused by a storm or extreme weather event. Water damage related to hail, tornados, hurricanes, and other weather events is often covered by your home insurance policy. For example, if high winds damage part of your roof and rain damages your property, you may file a claim. However, individual policies may contain limitations, so it’s important to understand your coverage if you plan to file a claim for the damage.
- Water damage caused by burst pipes. While most residential property policies do not cover water damage caused by flooding, most do cover water damage related to other issues, such as frozen or broken water pipes. And, while you probably don’t have coverage to replace the appliance, your policy may also include the sudden water damage caused by malfunctioning appliances, such as washing machines and dishwashers. However, there are also several important exceptions included in most homeowners policies. For example, if your water pipes froze because you did not properly maintain your plumbing, your insurance claim will likely be denied.
- Water damage caused by leaks. Slow leaks are easy to overlook and may be caused by weather-damaged roofs, leaking pipes, dripping appliances, and other issues. While most homeowners policies cover sudden water damage, it can be very difficult to get your losses covered for water damage that has happened over time. Leaks and undetected water damage are generally chalked up to a lack of appropriate maintenance and are probably not covered by your homeowners policy. For example, if you overlook a roof leak or fail to fix a leak under your sink, you may not be able to file a claim to repair your damage. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule, and you should consult your policy if you have questions.
- Water damage caused by backup from a sewer or drain. When a sewer or pipeline backs up into your home, it can cause extensive damage. However, unless you carry additional insurance specifically for sewer backup and similar water issues from outside sources, it is unlikely that your homeowners insurance covers you for this type of water damage. If you’re unsure, you should carefully read your insurance policy or call your insurance company for clarification.
Remember, too, that you have a responsibility to conduct regular maintenance on your property. If your home suffered water damage because you failed to make timely repairs or perform routine maintenance, you may be forced to pay for repairs out of your own pocket.
One Important Tip for Water Damage Insurance Claims
When filing an insurance claim related to a burst pipe, make sure to never to use the word “flooded,” even if you are simply trying to describe the incident and damage. Insurance companies love to deny claims that have anything to do with floodwater—don’t give them the opportunity!
Water damage is one of the more confusing aspects of homeowners insurance policies—and, all too often, property owners do not know when they should file a claim or whether they were wrongfully denied. An attorney experienced with insurance claim disputes may be able to help you better understand your policy and your claim. If you need help, reach out to the Voss Law Firm today at 1-888-614-7730.