How to Tell if Homeowners Insurance Covers Water Damage.

One of the things most homeowners dread is water damage. There is nothing worse than waking up to a busted pipe leaking water all over your basement floor or a roof leaking water into your upstairs bedroom. The damage caused by these mishaps can be extensive, and the water cleanup company repairs can be very costly. If this has just happened to you,here are a few things to keep in mind to determine if your insurance will pay the flood cleanup company bills:

The type of homeowner’s insurance policy you have

There are a couple different types of homeowner’s policies out there. There is the HO1, which is the lowest cost policy providing only bare bones coverage. An HO1 policy would likely not cover any kind of water damage. The good news is that most insurers don’t sell HO1’s anymore, so it’s unlikely you would have this kind of policy.

The most common type of policy for homeowners is the HO3. This is a standard policy with comprehensive coverage for a variety of different kinds of water damage. If you have an HO3 policy (and you probably do), then there is a good chance your water damage cleanup and repair bills will be covered.

Water damage covered by HO3 policies

A standard HO3 policy will typically cover water damage from the following scenarios:

  1. Leaking roofs
  2. Burst pipes
  3. Appliances like washing machines and dishwashers that overflow
  4. Bathtub and sink overflows.

If any of these are the cause of the water damage, it is likely that your insurance company will cover the cost to repair the damage.However, they will not cover the cost to repair whatever caused the damage. For example, if your washing machine overflowed spreading water all over the basement, the HO3 policy will likely cover the cost of the damage to the basement, but they will not cover the cost of repairing the malfunctioning washing machine.

Water Damage NOT covered by HO3 policies

A standard HO3 policy will likely not cover damage caused by water in the following cases:

  1. Sewer and drain backups
  2. Damage caused by failure to perform preventative maintenance
  3. Flooding and other natural disasters

If your water damage was caused by any of these 3 scenarios, you are not likely to be covered by an HO3 policy. If you experienced a sewer or drain backup, it is possible that you may have purchased an additional rider to specifically cover this kind of damage. If you’re unsure, call your agent to find out if you have sewer and drain backup coverage.

Failure to maintain the home properly can result in a denied claim. For example, if you had a leaking roof for an extended period of time that caused water seepage damaging the walls and floor of the house, the adjuster may find that this seepage was preventable and deny the claim.  

Flood insurance is excluded from all HO3 policies.Flood insurance needs to be purchased separately from the National Flood Insurance Program at least 30 days prior to the damage occurring.

Please note: When reporting the claim, avoid using the word“flood”, as this may imply that damage occurred from flooding, which is excluded from the policy.

If the cause of your water damage is covered in your HO3 policy, document all the damage by taking detailed photos and call your agent to report the claim. This will likely result in your claim being covered and your water damage company bills being reimbursed by your insurer.

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