Water damage is one of the most common claims home insurance policyholders file. Burst pipes, leaking appliances, and flooded basements often lead people to discover the details of their home insurance policies. Unfortunately, many of them are surprised to learn that the water damage to their home isn't covered.
Don't be caught off-guard. Make sure you have water damage insurance. And consider these five common water damage scenarios and their insurance consequences.
1. The Temperature Drops, Causing Pipes to Freeze and Burst
Are you covered? Yes, you are covered for water damage from burst pipes. Most policies, however, won't cover the damage if you left the house unoccupied without heat. Doing so could get your claim denied because you have failed to take reasonable precautionary steps to prevent the incident (see 11 Winter Maintenance Tips for Your Home for other smart measures you can take during the colder months).
2. The Washing Machine Overflows and Floods the Basement
Are you covered? Yes, in most cases. Most home insurance policies will cover water damage due to broken appliances. But, again, only so long as it doesn't result from your negligence. Did your washer break suddenly and unexpectedly, or did you fail to maintain it?
3. Sewer Backup Floods the Basement
Are you covered? This one depends on your policy. Some policies automatically include sewer backup in the coverage, but not all of them do. If yours doesn't have it, you can buy that coverage with a special endorsement. Ask your insurance provider about your options.
4. Water Seepage Into the Basement Damages the House's Foundation and Interior
Are you covered? No, this one is not covered. Seepage is considered a maintenance problem, and not sudden and accidental damage. Because of that, it is excluded from homeowners insurance policies.
5. Rainstorm Causes a Tree to Fall on the Roof, Leading to Interior Water Damage
Are you covered? Yes, your home policy would cover both the resulting damage to your roof and the interior damage from the rain. Most policies will even cover the removal of the damaged tree.