Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?

min read
Updated: 03 April 2024
Written by
Cara Carlone
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Water damage can be a big problem for homeowners. Does homeowners insurance cover water damage?

The short answer is yes, but there are certain qualifying conditions to be met in order to receive benefits on water damage to your home. Basically, it comes down to how the damage occurred.

In case you’re wondering what these conditions are, do not worry. I’ve spent over twenty years educating consumers about insurance, and I will explain this subject so that you have a good understanding of it.

Key Takeaways

  • A standard homeowners insurance policy may cover water damage, depending on its cause

  • A home warranty may help cover the cost of water damage, too

  • You can add endorsements to your coverage to cover certain water damage excluded by your standard homeowners policy

  • The usual exclusions on homeowners’ policies regarding water damage are natural flooding, sewer line and/or sump pump backup, neglect, and earthquakes

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?

Water damage is covered by a standard homeowners policy if the damage results suddenly, or accidentally. In order to better know when your homeowners’ policy will apply and when it won’t, you need to know what is typically covered.  

A homeowners insurance policy will usually cover the structure of your home, including anything attached to it, if it isn’t specifically excluded. In addition, the standard policy will normally cover outbuildings such as a garage, shed, or other unattached structure.

Since water damage occurs in or on your home, it’s typically covered under your insurance if, as mentioned above, the damage was accidental and sudden. However, there are conditions as to when water damage is not covered.

Just as almost any other type of insurance, there are exclusions. For example, damage caused by flooding isn’t part of water damage coverage in most home insurance policies. This also applies to ground movement, meaning damage caused by earthquakes, land shock waves, landslides, mudslides, tremors both before and after volcanic eruptions, mudflow, sinkholes, subsidence or any other sinking or shifting of the earth.

When Will Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?

Standard home insurance policies will usually provide coverage for water damage that isn’t listed as an exclusion, provided it was sudden and accidental. But, there are events that you can safely bet on coverage being available.


The majority of extreme weather events such as hail, storms and lightning, are covered under your home insurance policy. For instance, if a tree fell on the roof of your house during a storm and caused a hole that allowed water in, which then caused water damage, you would be covered.


While fire itself doesn’t cause water damage in a house, the water used by the fire department to extinguish a fire generally does. Since the water damage was an indirect result of a covered peril, sudden and accidental, a homeowners policy would normally provide coverage.


In the admittedly unlikely event that a vandal or thief broke into your home while you were away, and turned on all the faucets so that water flowed over everywhere in the house, any water damage would be covered.

Note: Some homeowner insurance policies have a separate deductible for hurricanes or wind storms. The deductible might be a percentage of your dwelling amount, so check your deductible before you file a claim. You don’t want to file a claim if your deductible is going to be more than the amount of the damage.

When Will Homeowners Insurance Not Cover Water Damage?

Some of the common exclusions for water damage are shown below:

  • Groundwater and/or Standing Water: Damage from groundwater or standing water caused by poor drainage is generally excluded.
  • Sewer Lines: As a rule. damage from faulty sewer lines is not covered.
  • Floods: Homeowners insurance doesn’t typically cover water damage from flooding, which includes storm surges, overflowing rivers, or heavy rain.
  • Sump Pump Backups: Sump pump backups are not usually covered.
  • Negligence: When water damage is due to negligence or a lack of routine maintenance, it might not be covered.
  • Gradual Damage: Damage that takes place over a period of time and that a homeowner is allowed to progress instead of the problem being addressed and repaired, probably won’t be covered.
  • Normal Wear and Tear: Normal wear and tear that is part of everyday use isn’t covered.

Statistics from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners state that ninety percent of all natural disasters involve flooding. Unfortunately, flooding is excluded from coverage in most home insurance policies. But, you can purchase it in a separate policy. If this is a concern, you can purchase a flood policy through the National  Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

If you’re hesitant about spending the money to add flood insurance or an endorsement for water damage, here’s something to consider:

Claims due to water damage make up 24% of home insurance claims in the United States, with an average payout of $12,5141 each. So, it’s easy to see that at some point, you might have water damage to your home.

What Are Some Preventive Measures To Avoid Water Damage?

The most important thing you can do is to inspect your home thoroughly, on a consistent basis, for signs of water damage or something that might cause water damage, such as faulty pipes, leaks, debris on the roof that may have caused a hole large enough to allow water in, water behind your refrigerator from a cracked ice maker supply line.

Here are some other ways I suggest to help head off water damage to your home:

  • Check caulking around your windows and doors on a routine basis. Cracked caulk can allow water in and cause problems.
  • Check for damp or dark spots or stains on the floor, ceiling, water lines, or pipes.
  • Clean your gutters regularly. If they become blocked, water can overflow and damage your exterior siding, your roof or even the foundation  of your house.
  • Make sure that downspouts direct the water away from your house a minimum of 5-10 feet to prevent standing water against the foundation.
  • Trim branches of trees and shrubs so that they aren’t touching your house and possibly causing a hole where water could get inside.
  • Be careful not to plant trees where roots might wrap around buried water and sewer or septic lines, causing them to burst.
  • Winterize outside water spigots, hoses, and lines by draining all water from them, so that they don’t freeze and rupture.
  • Give your home the sniff test, especially in areas that might be prone to water damage. If you detect a musty, moldy odor, check for leaking water.
  • Purchase smart water sensors that can detect a water leak before it becomes a big problem.

Should You File an Insurance Claim If You Have Water Damage?

That depends. One of the major factors in this decision is your deductible. If you have a $1,000 deductible and the damage is going to cost less than that, you should probably rethink filing a claim.

It isn’t unheard of for insurance companies to raise a policyholder’s premiums after a claim has been filed. So, even if the damage is a little more than the deductible, you have to ask yourself if you’d be any better off money-wise to collect a few dollars on a claim but then pay higher premiums from then on.

How Do You File A Claim For Water Damage?

If you have decided to file a claim for water damage, the process is basically the same as filing a claim for anything else.

Note: Some insurers have separate deductibles for wind or hurricane losses. These  deductibles may be a percentage of your home’s dwelling limit and not a flat amount. Always look at the correct deductible before deciding whether the damage is more than that amount.

You will almost certainly have an insurance adjuster come to your home to assess the damage and determine whether or not it’s a covered loss.

Once coverage is confirmed, and repairs are initiated, keep all of your receipts and/or contracts. In order to receive reimbursement for the work from your insurance provider, you will have to submit this paperwork as proof of cost.

Are There Additional Coverage Types For Water Damage?

Homeowners who want to make sure they have adequate coverage for water damage should take a look at these options:


You can purchase separate flood insurance. The NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) only covers water damage if you cannot access your home after a flood.

Flood insurance is more limited in its coverage for water damage but if your home was flooded, you would be glad to have the coverage if available.


As earth movement can cause water lines to rupture and similar displacement of things such as toilets and toilet tanks filled with water, earthquake insurance coverage might be something for you to consider. Especially if you’re in an area prone to quakes.

The thing is though that in the event an earthquake causes water damage, it’s important to be aware of the gray areas of coverage.

Generally speaking, earthquake insurance itself usually doesn’t cover water damage caused by earth movement. For example, if your water pipes burst due to seismic activity, water damage might be excluded from coverage.

Just in case, you might purchase a separate endorsement for water backup to cover water damage that is a result of such events as sewer backups or burst pipes following a quake.

Earthquake insurance focuses primarily on structural damage from the earthquake itself, instead of resulting water damage. The bottom line in this is that there really isn’t a bottom line. Coverage for earthquake related water damage can vary from one insurer to the next. So the best thing to do is ask.


Does standard homeowners insurance include coverage for water damage?

Homeowners insurance might cover water damage. This depends on the damage and what caused it. As I’ve pointed out earlier, most policies require that water damage be accidental as well as sudden in order to be covered. You might want to secure a separate policy or an endorsement to get coverage for exclusions.

Can you purchase separate water damage coverage?

Yes, you can get a separate policy or an endorsement.

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