Did you know that 1 in 50 homeowners submit water damage claims every year?
Winter storms alone caused an estimated $71 billion in insurance losses in 2019.
So, that begs the question: does homeowners insurance cover water damage?
The source of the damage in your home could result in a denial from your insurance company. If you’re not prepared, it could cost you big time.
Don’t become another statistic. Learn how to keep your homeowner’s policy on your side.
Types of Water Damage
Do you remember when you learned how the scoring works in golf?
If you don’t know: the lowest score wins. Instead of counting baskets or touchdowns, golfers count how many strokes it takes to get to the hole. But you can imagine how someone might get confused, right?
You don’t want to misunderstand “the game” when you’re dealing with water damage on your property. Your insurance company needs to know what type of damage exists. It’s crucial to be familiar with the different terms.
There are three types of water damage: Clean Water, Greywater, and Blackwater.
The definitions for these categories come from the Institute of International Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). They’re the PGA (Professional Golfer’s Association) of restoration services in the U.S.
Clean Water Damage (Category 1)
If your water isn’t a health risk, that’s clean water damage. The most common causes of clean water damage include:
- Melting snow
- Toilet Holding Tanks
- Malfunctioning Appliances
Your timing couldn’t be more crucial. Standing Category 1 water loss becomes greywater 72 hours after the initial loss. Protect your property by at least having a consultation with a water damage restoration service.
Greywater (Category 2)
Wastewater that doesn’t contain fecal matter means you have greywater. Serious dangers exist in this type of water. You may hear this called “sullage” by professionals.
The most common sources for this in your home include:
- Bathtubs and showers
- Washing machines
Blackwater (Category 3)
If you have blackwater, you have feces, toxins, or other pathogens in your wastewater.
It’s not unusual for a Category 3 flooding to include dangerous chemicals that can be dangerous without the proper protection. Unless you are a licensed, bonded, and insured plumber, call professionals who handle this problem every day.
The most common causes of blackwater include:
- Burst or damaged sewage pipes
- Large scale flooding
- Broken dishwasher
What Will Insurance Cover?
Most homeowner policies cover water damage repair to your house for incidents that happen suddenly from inside the house. Other weather-related issues may or may not be covered. If you don’t have an all-risk policy, home insurance only protects specific incidents.
You can find more detail about the most common “damage perils” in the following sections.
If your home had a major fire that required firefighters to cause water damage, most insurance companies would cover the repairs. This also includes fire sprinklers on your property.
Coverage for weather-related damage comes standard with your home insurance. No matter where you live in North America, there’s a natural event that could destroy your property.
The most common weather-related property damage in the U.S. includes:
- Hail Damage
- Frozen Pipes
- Roof Damage
- Hail Damage
- Ice Dams
- Wind Damage
- Sewer Back-Up
- Power Failure
Pro Tip: Snow or Rain Damage
Here’s the catch: if you haven’t kept up on your roof maintenance, you’re in trouble. Your insurance company needs to determine if the cause of the water damage was the result of a weather event or neglect.
The most common water damage from snow or rain includes wind-driven precipitation that leaks into the attic or a roof collapse.
There’s nothing worse than discovering a plumbing leak that you didn’t discover right away, but it’s common.
Appliances like your dishwasher, refrigerator, and washing machine do not have exclusions. You don’t have to have a burst or leaky pipe behind your walls or in your crawlspace for your insurance to pay for the damage.
Your insurance company will describe plumbing issues in your policy as either an “overflow of water or steam” or an “accidental discharge.”
This should include:
- Outdoor Sprinklers
- Burst Pipes
- Blocked Pipes
- Air Conditioners
- Water Heaters
- Fire Sprinklers
What Doesn’t Insurance Cover?
Everything depends on your policy, but insurance companies do not cover certain incidents. In most cases, you have alternatives to protect your home.
You won’t find basic coverage that includes floods from anyone. You need to contact your agent for options from your insurance company.
Or, you can buy insurance from FEMA thanks to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Ask about an endorsement to cover the gap with your homeowner’s policy. Overflows from sewage draining into your home may not exist in your agreement.
Plumbing Leaks from Poor Maintenance
You’re not expected to be a certified plumber to have coverage, but you do have a responsibility to keep your home maintained. Old appliances, outdated pipes, or good-old-fashioned poor construction can lead to a denial.
The most common examples of gradual damage are the following:
- Poor repairs
- Lack of maintenance
- Water damage from seepage into the cracks of the foundation
- Plumbing leaks that happen over time to ceilings, walls, or floors
- A deteriorating roof that shows signs it needs repair
- Decaying electrical wiring
It’s important to note that these are general examples only. The best way to protect yourself from a surprise denial is to dive into the details of your policy. You can’t predict how an insurance company will behave, but you can stack the odds in your favor.
Call your insurance agent or representative to review your policy verbatim. Ask for an opportunity to review all exclusions in the policy.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?
It’s worth asking one more time: does homeowners insurance cover water damage?
Everything depends on the source of the damage, as most things do with insurance companies. That’s no comfort, so here’s some good news: you know how to prepare yourself for the worst after reading this article.
Did you find this post helpful? Do you have questions about water damage in your home? Call us now to answer the rest of your questions at 1-833-424-0044.