Water Damage Home Insurance

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Water Damage Insurance

By | January 8, 2013

Will Your Home Insurance Policy Pay for Water Damage?

Water damage insurance is yet another issue to think about when you are faced with a water damaged home.

Water damage cleanup and repair can be a costly operation, and surely you’d want to receive financial aid from your home insurance policy.

In fact, water damage is one of the topmost reasons why most home insurance planholders make claims. Unfortunately, home insurance tends to be tricky when it comes to water damage, which is why many people have had negative experiences when claiming insurance benefits for their water damaged house.

The biggest challenge in making a water damage insurance claim lies in determining whether your water damage problem is covered by your policy. But even if you are uncertain about whether your insurance plan will cover your water damage expenses, it is still best to report any water damage incident to your provider. In fact, this is one of the first few things you should do when you first come upon the flooding in your home.

How to Deal with Water Damage Insurance Reporting 

water damage home insurance

Even in the panic of finding your home flooded, don’t forget to call up your insurance company to report the damage. Ask them about the step by step process they require in making a claim, and you may also ask for some recommendations on which water damage companies you can trust. You are not obliged to heed their advice, but there’s no harm in including the recommended companies in your comparisons when you ask for quotes.

After receiving your report, your insurance company will most likely send an agent out to evaluate and document the loss, but in the meantime, before you or your water damage restoration service start the cleanup, take pictures of your water damaged home. After extracting the water, you should also take pictures of your water damaged floors.

Take individual photos of everything that get damaged, including water damaged ceilings and walls, furnitures, and even small loose items. These photos will come in handy when you make a claim; some homeowners have even become quite creative and have even used videos. While taking pictures, jot down these damaged items in a list. The goal is to give your insurance company a clear idea of the full extent of the damage.

Other documents that can help make your claim stronger include cost estimates, a complete water damage report, and receipts of repairs, restoration, and even sanitizing services you availed of.

If your insurance agent and water damage repair company comes up with different cost estimates, they will have to agree on a single amount, usually halfway between their estimates. Just make sure nothing is compromised in terms of the complete repair and restoration your home will need.

Homeowners Insurance on Water Damage – What’s Covered and What’s Not

Since policies cover different types of losses, insurance companies have different standards, and water damage is caused by many reasons, not all water damage incidents are automatically covered.

deal with water damage home insurance

Water damage incidents that are covered are those that occur due to material defects such as dishwasher malfunctions or burst pipes, and those that are accidental in nature. However, insurance companies will not pay for damage caused by neglect, carelessness, or poor maintenance.

There are exceptions, though. There are sudden and unexpected reasons that are beyond your control that insurance agencies nevertheless exclude from their basic coverage. These include water damage caused by natural disasters such as heavy rainfall or river overflows; such damage is considered to be flood damage, which is a common exclusion.

Usually, home insurance policies offer separate coverage packages for the water damage incidents their basic plans do not cover. This way, homeowners have the option to avail of additional cover by paying an additional fee. The most common optional coverage packages offered are flood insurance cover, sewage damage cover, and fire water damage, among others.

These optional coverage plans may double your premiums, though. But since you are only availing of these added coverage plans as a contingency just in case the covered incidents occur, you should consider getting a higher deductible, which can decrease your monthly premiums.

Common Water Damage Insurance Scenarios 

Here are some common causes of water damage. Find out if you are covered by your insurance policy if you face any one of these common scenarios.

Scenario 1: If your water pipes froze due to the cold weather and burst, flooding your home with tap water.

water damage bursted pipes

In this scenario, most homeowners insurance plans will cover you on a conditional basis. If the house was unoccupied when the incident happened and the pipes burst because you forgot to turn on the heat before leaving, some policies may not cover the damage. This is because the incident may have been easily prevented had it not been for your negligence.

Scenario 2: Your washing machine or dishwasher overflows and floods your basement, laundry room, or kitchen.

washing machine or dishwasher overflows

In this scenario, the decision depends on the reason what caused the water appliance involved to malfunction. If the damage was accidental or was due to some defect in the appliance, your policy may cover the water damage repair, but not the repair for your appliance. However, if the problem was caused by your lack of maintenance, your policy may not cover it.

Scenario 3: Your sewage system backed up and flooded your basement.

water damage sewage system backed up

Basic home insurance policies do not cover basement floods caused by sewage water damage. Most companies frown upon sewer backups because the water involved is black water or is highly contaminated. In fact, several policies specifically list sewer backups under its exclusions. Thus, if you want to be protected from this, you will have to pay extra for special coverage.

Scenario 4: Water seeps through your basement foundation and damages your home’s foundation and basement interior.

water damage home foundation because of flooded basement

Water seepage problems are not covered by homeowners insurance plans. This is because seepage only occurs if you failed to have foundation waterproofing installed before you had your house constructed. It is not considered as sudden and accidental.

Scenario 5: Heavy raining caused a nearby river to overflow and the flood enters your living room. It also damages some of your furnitures.

water damage flooded house

This scenario is considered as flood water damage, and is excluded from regular home insurance policies. If you want coverage for flood damage, you have to purchase an additional flood insurance rider. You also have the option to avail of federally provided flood insurance plans, which are offered by the National Flood Insurance Program to communities participating in its floodplain management project.

Scenario 6: Fire water damage

Fire water damage

Another water damage cause that almost all homeowners insurance companies frown upon is fire water damage. Such damage is excluded due to the high level of loss they often entail. Like with flood damage, fire damage will only be covered if you purchased of an additional fire insurance rider on top of your basic policy.

Scenario 7: Mold damage after water damage

water damage mold and mildew

Several insurance plans these days do not cover mold damage under their standard policies, even though the mold was a direct result of a covered water damage incident. The company may pay for the repair and restoration, but may refuse to cover mold removal.

Mold usually begins developing within the first 48 hours after water floods your home. This means you have window of time during which you can immediately clean up the water and dry your home to prevent mold growth. The failure to do so in a timely or effective manner such that mold started to develop, then the mold problem will be considered as a result of your negligence, and not of the water damage itself. This is the reason why mold removal services are often excluded from water damage coverage.

If you were able to extract the water in time, you may avail of mold prevention services from your water damage emergency service provider; in this case, your insurance policy may cover the costs.

DIY or Professional Water Damage Restoration Services – Which is Better? 

When faced with the task of cleaning water damage, homeowners have two options, either to do the repairs themselves or to hire professionalwater damage restoration services. If you decide to DIY, make sure you look for water damage cleaning tips so you will do the job properly and without compromising your safety as well as that of your home.

However, if you want to get an approved water damage insurance claimmore easily, it would be better to hire a licensed water damage company, especially one that is already trusted by your insurance provider. This way, you will have access to inspection and analysis results as well as to official cost estimates and receipts, which will help support your water damage insurance claim. In fact, some insurance companies and water damage specialists are willing to transact directly to save you the hassle; the water damage company will send the bill directly to your insurance provider, leaving you with nothing else to worry about.


Understanding Your Insurance Policy to Avoid Surprises 


In water damage insurance, you should not assume. If you think you were at fault in the incident, most experts advise that you should still report the damage to see whether you may be able to get even restricted coverage. Likewise, even if the damage was sudden and accidental, do not automatically assume that your policy will cover it. Some homeowners immediately call for a water damage emergency service without checking with their insurance company first. In the end, they learn that they can’t afford to pay for the repair service and their policy won’t cover the expenses.

It is your responsibility as a planholder to know and understand the full extent of your home insurance policy pertaining to water damage. This way, you won’t encounter any unpleasant surprises.