Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?
Standard homeowners insurance policies cover the costs of internal water damage under dwelling coverage – but only if the cause is sudden, accidental and classified as a covered peril. Other options that may cover water damage in a home are an endorsement on a homeowners insurance policy or a separate flood insurance policy.
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Water damage is a peril that a standard homeowners insurance policy may cover under dwelling coverage. However, the cause should be a covered peril.
Some perils, like sewer backup or hidden water damage, are usually only covered through endorsements.
Don’t confuse flood as part of water damage because it is almost never covered by homeowners insurance unless it was caused by a covered peril. To be fully protected from flood water damage, you must have flood insurance or difference in condition (DIC) insurance. These are separate policies, and very few insurers offer them.
Water damage can happen anytime and be very expensive to repair. But, you don’t need to worry about that because most homeowners insurance policies cover water damage as long as it is caused by a covered peril. But, if your property is in a flood-prone area, it is best to buy flood insurance as a separate policy.
In this article:
When Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?
A standard homeowners insurance policy covers water damage under dwelling coverage or by endorsement under sewer backup or hidden water damage coverage.
Most standard homeowners insurance policies cover the costs associated with water damage if it happens suddenly or accidentally from a source inside your home, such as a broken or frozen pipe. Your policy does not cover water damage caused by a source outside your home, like in the case of a flood. Below are some instances when homeowners insurance covers water damage.
- If you have drenched drywall due to a water heater rupture.
- If a burst pipe on the upper floor of your home damages the ceiling below.
- If a sudden leak in your ceiling or a burst pipe damages your personal belongings.
A standard homeowners insurance policy covers the repairs due to water damage as long as the cause is sudden and accidental and the source is within your home.
For example, if an upstairs pipe suddenly bursts, soaking the ceiling below and damaging your floor, the policy’s dwelling coverage shoulders the expenses of repairing your damaged ceiling and flooring.
Also, any damage to your personal belongings resulting in the need to repair or replace them is covered by the personal property coverage in your policy.
If the water damage causes your home to be unlivable, the additional living expenses coverage in your policy pays the cost of your temporary relocation.
When Doesn’t Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?
Homeowners insurance does not cover all types of water damage — homeowners insurance will not pay for damages arising from poor maintenance and negligence.
Below are some scenarios when a homeowners insurance policy won’t cover water damage.
Unresolved Maintenance Issues: Homeowners insurance will not cover water damage if you cause the peril yourself, either due to poor maintenance or negligence. For example, a faulty plumbing fixture, such as a leaking sink or unrepaired pipe, will not be covered by your policy.
Source of the Water Damage: A standard policy does not cover the repair or replacement of the source of the water damage – for example, a broken dishwasher or washing machine that causes water damage to your floor. But, you may add an endorsement to your policy that covers the appliance.
Water Backup From an Outside Sewer or Drain: A standard homeowners insurance policy typically excludes damage caused by sources outside your home. For example, if water backs up to your property due to a faulty outside sewer or drain, your policy does not pay for repairs. It is best to buy sewer or water backup add-on coverages to protect your home from this peril.
Flood: A homeowners policy does not cover flood damage. We highly recommend getting flood insurance if you live in an area that is flood-prone. Most insurers provide flood insurance coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), so it is best to check if your insurer carries this option.
How to Prevent Water Damage
Having a homeowners insurance policy protects you from the financial burden of having to deal with the cost of repairs when sudden and accidental water damage occurs in your home.
We advise you to regularly check and inspect your home’s indoor plumbing system and immediately repair any leaks or damages since lack of maintenance that causes water damage is not covered by homeowners insurance.
MoneyGeek lists below some practical advice to safeguard your home and personal belongings from water damage.
Maintain Your Indoor Plumbing System
Regularly inspect your plumbing and heating pipes, appliance hoses and faucets and showers and tubs to be aware of any leaks or damage. You may also consider installing a water leak monitoring and shut-off system, as well as an emergency pressure release valve, to serve as an extra precaution. We also advise that you immediately replace any hoses that have cracks or leaks, and replace hoses every five to seven years.
Repair and Protect the Exterior of Your Home
Prevent water seepage by caulking and sealing your windows, regularly inspecting your roof for any missing, damaged or aging shingles and installing gutter guards to keep water flowing away from your home. You should also periodically check your downspouts for any accumulated debris. Plus, check and maintain your sprinklers and irrigation systems to protect against frozen pipes.
Prevent Basement Water Seepage
Reseal your basement and install a backwater valve to prevent basement water seepage and the associated costly water damage.
Protect Your Personal Property
We strongly suggest that you store high-value property, memorabilia and bulk belongings in waterproof bins or use off-the-floor shelving. Also, keep an up-to-date inventory of your possessions to serve as a comprehensive list in the event of loss due to water damage.
Where to Buy Homeowners Insurance
Most leading insurance carriers, such as State Farm, and regional providers, like Hippo, provide homeowners insurance. MoneyGeek strongly advises comparing homeowners insurance quotes to identify which insurer is best suited to your needs.
On average, the cost of homeowners insurance is $175 per month. But this rate may vary depending on the provider, property value and the value of belongings.
Use MoneyGeek’s personal property calculator below to get an estimate of how much you could pay for the coverage you need.
About the Author
- Insurance Information Institute. "How to Protect Your Home From Water Damage." Accessed May 25, 2022.