Water Damage Claims and Your Insurance Company

water damage claims

Water damage ranks as the #2 most frequent cause of homeowner’s insurance claims (wind and hail damage are #1) and it costs insurance companies $2.5 billion per average year.  Therefore, the industry at large imposes fairly consistent standards for what constitutes water damage versus what doesn’t in homeowner’s insurance policies. Reporting requirements and background issues such as maintenance also impact coverage. Here are some common particulars that apply to most cases.

Is my water damage covered? Maybe. Water damage from typical indoor sources like a broken pipe, ruptured water heater or overflowing washing machine is usually covered by homeowner’s policies. Damage resulting from outdoor sources like flooding, however, isn’t.  Sewage backups into the house typically receive no coverage in standard policies. However, a rider adding sewage coverage is usually available at increased cost.

Maintenance matters. Coverage also depends upon whether negligence is a factor. While sudden pipe ruptures are covered, for example, ongoing water damage from a leaky pipe that was ignored and not promptly repaired isn’t.  Same goes for damage due to a leaky roof. If the incoming water is the result of an immediate cause such as storm damage to the roof, you’re in luck. If it’s due to existing roof leaks that have simply been neglected, you’re not.  

How about mold?  Mold contamination is almost a slam dunk following most indoor water damage incidents. Homeowner’s insurance typically covers professional mold remediation services if the damage resulted from one of the covered causes mentioned in the above examples. Other causes that also trigger mold contamination, such as high indoor humidity, flooding or a preventable leak aren’t covered.

What to do first. If water is still flowing from a broken pipe or other source, contact a plumber first for emergency service. Make your very next call to the insurance company to ensure that the policy’s requirement for promptly reporting the incident is fulfilled. Don’t throw out any damaged items yet. Compose a list of all items that were affected by water. Take photos to document the incident before any water damage recovery procedures are initiated.

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