Water damage to a home may or may not be covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy depending on the source of the water and the specifications of the policy. If water damage is the result of a flood, a separate flood insurance policy is required in order for the repairs to be covered. Barring flood damage, homeowners insurance will usually cover water damage, although the amount of coverage may vary based on the chosen policy.
Water Damage Coverage
Most homeowner’s insurance policies specify that water which damages a home prior to coming into contact with the ground is not considered to be flood water. This differentiation is important for home owners to know when filing an insurance claim, as water damage that does not fit this criterion may cause a claim denial when filed directly with a homeowner’s insurance company. Speaking to an insurance representative prior to filing a claim may be the best way for a home owner to determine exactly how to file a water damage claim, and whether the claim should be filed under homeowner’s insurance or under flood insurance.
Examples of water damage that may be covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy include:
• Rainwater coming in through a window that was broken during a storm
• Water coming from a leaking pipe
• Water coming through a poorly maintained or faulty roof
• Water coming from a damaged washing machine
Flood Damage Coverage
Flood insurance is often offered in addition to homeowner’s insurance, and the two policies are typically designed to complement one another. Flood damage is defined opposite to water damage as any damage to a home caused by water that has previously been on the ground. Certain areas that are prone to flooding may require flood insurance to be purchased in addition to home owner’s insurance. Areas that are not prone to flooding may not require flood insurance to be purchased by home owners. However, opting not to purchase flood insurance may be risky, as damage from any flooding events that do occur will usually not be covered under other policies. Water damage caused by events that may be covered under flood insurance include:
• Basement flooding following heavy rains
• Overflow from a body of water rushing into the home
• Weakening of walls and home structure following heavy rains
• Rising water flooding a screened room or porch area
Purchasing Flood Insurance
Do to the high cost of insuring against flood damage in flood prone areas, many private insurance companies do not offer flood insurance. It may be necessary for homeowners to seek flood insurance from a separate company, especially if flood insurance is a requirement. Flood insurance may be extremely costly, in some cases.
Water Damage Results
Water or flood damage can leave homes vulnerable to further damage as a result of weakened walls,
doors, windows, appliances and other structural damage. If theft, explosions, or fire occur as a result
of water damage, these resulting damages may be covered by homeowners insurance even if the
initial disaster is not. However, any damage directly caused by the water damage may not be covered.
A homeowner’s insurance representative may be able to assist in determining what damage may be
Mold can build up following any type of water damage and cause harm to the home and residents. Mold can cause health problems such as respiratory infections, bronchitis, and asthma. Since mold is caused by moisture, it is important to make repairs following water damage so that mold does not develop. Mold damage may be covered by either flood insurance or homeowner’s insurance, although this is not always the case.
Denied Water Damage Claims
Insurance companies are expected to maintain honesty with policy holders and ensure that policy holders understand what types of damage are covered under an insurance policy. If a homeowner files a claim with the understanding that water or flood damage is covered and the claim is denied, the insurance company may be at fault for misleading the policy holder. An attorney may be able to provide assistance if a claims denial was unfair or if the policy holder was intentionally misled.
“Flood Damage vs. Water Damage.” Flood Damage vs. Water Damage. Insurance Information Network of California, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 1 June 2014. <http://www.iinc.org/articles/18/1/Flood-Damage-Vs-Water-Damage/Page1.html>
“Flooding & Flood Risks.” Flooding. FEMA, 18 May 2014. Web. 1 June 2014. <https://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/flooding_flood_risks/ffr_overview.jsp>
“Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings: Table 1: Water Damage.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 25 July 2012. Web. 1 June 2014. <http://www.epa.gov/mold/table1.html>