When our homes start filling with water, most of us are more concerned with getting rid of the moisture — quickly! — than with tracking where it came from. Insurance-wise, however, the source of your unwanted lagoon is pretty crucial. The big distinction you have to make is between flooding and water damage.
What’s considered a flood?
A flood typically involves external water rising onto your land, such as you might get from an overflowing river, tsunami, mudslide — even heavy rains. Damage caused by flooding is generally not covered by your home insurance policy; you need separate flood insurance coverage.
What’s considered water damage?
Water damage, on the other hand, involves instances of water hitting your home before touching the outside ground — and is usually covered by homeowners insurance. Depending on your home policy, things like a roof leak, busted pipe, or faulty sump pump could all qualify.
Remember, because the distinction between flooding and water damage is so fine, it’s always best to talk with your insurer after any incident. Even if your claim is flood-based and the immediate damage isn’t covered, perils extending from the flood — like property theft or fire — might be.
There is a lot of confusion about what types of water damage is covered under a home insurance policy. With so many home insurance mold claims being denied, home owners are left with a lot of questions when it comes to water damage to their home. Let’s take a look at what types of water damage is covered under your home insurance policy and what to do if water damage happens to your home.
Examples of What Types of Water Damage Your Home Insurance Policy Would Cover
Homeowners policies do not cover damages due to a flood, but they do cover other kinds of water damage. For example, they would generally pay for damage from rain coming through a hole in the roof or a broken window if the hole was caused by strong storm winds. On the other hand, if you have a hidden pipe leaking in your house and over time water damage occurs, that would not be covered. It pretty much boils down to whether the water damage was caused by a covered peril such as a storm… if the water damage was due to you not keeping your house maintained and repaired then your insurance would not cover it. If you don’t know what water damage is covered, review your home insurance policy or check with your home insurance company now, before any damage occurs.
Clean Up Your Water Damage to Avoid Mold
Regardless of how the water damage happened, it is important to take similar steps to remedy it. Never ignore indications of an obvious water problem in your home. You should immediately attempt to find and stop leaks at their source. When water leaks into your property, moisture can collect, allowing mold to develop. Mold can cause further damage to your property and can potentially cause health problems. The adverse health effects from mold exposure can range from runny noses, coughs, nosebleeds, congestion, and sinusitis to more serious upper respiratory ailments such as asthma or bronchitis. A lot of insurance companies are restricting mold damage, but some mold damage may be covered if it was caused by a covered peril. You should immediately report any water damage to your insurance agent.
When a Storm Causes Water Damage
If sudden water damage occurs to your property, such as with a storm, it is important to dry all wet areas and provide air circulation to aid in the drying process. Also, cover any areas with a tarp to prevent more water damage. Covering, drying, and dehumidifying wet areas can help minimize the possibility that mold will accompany water damage. Always contact your insurance agent immediately to start the home owners insurance claims process.
Homeowners Insurance policies can often be confusing. We trust our agents to make sure we’re covered (pun intended), but it’s really your responsibility as a homeowner to understand the fine print, caveats and varying scenarios. This is especially true of water-related issues in the home. Of the top 10 most common – yet preventable – homeowners insurance claims filed in the U.S., half of them are due to water damage.
When one considers water damage to a home, the first scenario that comes to mind is flooding, right? Well, don’t get tripped up here. Flooding from natural disaster is an entirely separate set of clauses and coverage in an insurance plan, and is not covered under the general category of water damage. Flood coverage is covered separately, or at least as a rider onto your current policy. Without a flood policy, your insurance company won’t be covering any damage to your home due to flooding.
Types of Damage Covered by your Policy
What kinds of water damage are covered in your policy? Malfunctioning appliances, such as your dishwasher or washing machine, may cause water damage to floors and walls. Leaking sinks and toilets are also popular culprits of water damage. Broken pipes from freezing or other causes can result in serious water issues. Leaky roofs can be messy and expensive. Plumbing overflows and discharges from air conditioning and heating units, not to mention in-home fire sprinkler systems are also a common source of household water issues. And you’ve heard the expression, “adding insult to injury,” right? If you’ve had a fire in your home, it’s not just smoke and flame damage. If the fire’s the injury, water’s the insult. Fire Departments may need to use substantial amounts of water in your home to extinguish the fire. With all the inner workings of a home, the list of potential water damage goes on and on. Most of these issues should be covered in the standard policy. If you have a water disaster that’s covered by your policy, you will be reimbursed up to the maximum coverage less your deductible.