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  • Craig Harrell

What is Covered in a Water Damage Claim?

Updated: Apr 16

Whether from a burst pipe or a relentless storm, water damage is a homeowner's nightmare. It wreaks havoc on your property and your peace of mind, leaving a costly mess in its wake. But, does your homeowner's insurance cover water damage? If so, what does that mean? Let's wade through the fine print and touch on the details of what's covered under a water damage claim.

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What is Water Damage?

Water damage refers to when water intrudes into the home and causes damage like wood rot, mold growth, bacteria growth, rusting of steel, swelling of composite woods, and so on. These problems are often caused by leaks in the roof, plumbing issues, or even appliances that malfunction. Common examples include your washing machine overflowing, a pipe bursting, or rainwater entering your home through a hole in the roof.

What Does a Water Damage Claim Cover?

A standard homeowner's insurance policy typically covers sudden and accidental water damage. This means if you didn't have time to prevent the damage, your policy would likely cover the cost of repairs.

However, it's crucial to remember that what's covered often hinges on the source of the damage. In general, the following scenarios are usually covered:

  1. Internal Damage This refers to water damage occurring from the inside of the house, like a burst pipe or a water heater exploding.

  2. Roof Leaks If a storm causes damage to your roof, allowing rainwater to enter and damage your property, your policy may cover it.

  3. Accidental Overflow If an appliance in your home accidentally overflows, such as a dishwasher or washing machine, the ensuing water damage is often covered.

  4. Mold Remediation If the water damage is severe enough to cause mold, your insurance might cover the cost of professional mold remediation, but only if the damage was caused by a covered peril.

  5. Property Damage In addition to repairing the source of the water damage, your insurance also covers damaged personal property, such as furniture, electronics, etc. However, every insurance policy has its exclusions. Regular maintenance-related problems, such as ongoing leaks, usually aren't covered. Additionally, water damage resulting from negligence—like failing to repair a leaky roof or ignoring signs of a burst pipe—isn't covered either.

The Difference Between Water Damage and Flood Damage

One common misconception about homeowners insurance is that it covers flood damage. This is not the case. Flood damage and water damage are two different entities in the insurance world. Flood damage is defined by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) as damage caused by an overflow of inland or tidal waters, unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters, or mudflow. Essentially, if the water comes from a natural source outside your home—like a river that has overflowed its banks or heavy rainfall that causes street flooding—that's considered flood damage. To cover flood damage, you need separate flood insurance, usually through the NFIP. Regular homeowner's insurance does not cover this type of damage.

Review Your Policy

Understanding your homeowners' insurance policy is essential when dealing with water damage. Most policies cover accidental and sudden incidents, but you must take care to prevent ongoing issues or those stemming from negligence. And remember, flood damage is an entirely different animal—you need specific flood insurance for that. If you find yourself facing water damage, it's crucial to act quickly. Address the damage, document it, and get in touch with your insurance company to start the claims process. While dealing with water damage is never a pleasant experience, understanding what your insurance covers can help alleviate some of the stress and confusion.

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