picture of a water drop causing a splash

Water Damage And Claims

Water.  it is an essential part of our lives and we could not live without it; however, when water gets into places it is not supposed to be, it can wreak havoc in our lives.  Unwanted water can enter our homes through a variety of sources.  Some of them are covered by your homeowners insurance, some are not, and others have limited coverage.  The following is a brief description of how a Homeowners Policy typically responds to water damage.  Each company can differ, and one should consult their specific homeowners policy for exact coverage.

Water that backs up through sewers, drains, or sump pumps.  Water that backs up through drains can be from a widespread disaster, such as six inches of rain falling on the region, or the sewer or septic line being plugged.  This type of damage is excluded from the Homeowners policies; however, most companies have an optional endorsement to add coverage for an additional premium.  There is a limit on how much coverage you can buy.

Flood.  All Homeowners policies exclude flood.  The only way to insure for flood damage is through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).  You don’t have to be near a river or stream to sustain damage by flood.  A “flood” can be overflow of inland or tidal waters or “an unusual and rapid accumulation or run off of surface water from any source”.  For example, if during periods of heavy rain, water accumulates in your yard or driveway and runs into your house, this would be considered flood and not covered by a Homeowners Policy.

Rain entering through the roof, walls, or windows.  Some homeowners policies are what we call an HO3 Special Form Perils, which does cover this type of damage for the full limit of the policy.  Another type of policy is called an HO2 Broad Form Perils; under this policy, the water damage is only covered if the wind caused the damage which allowed the water to enter.

Ice Dam.  This happens in the winter when ice builds up in the gutters and starts to back up under the shingles.  As the ice melts, it can leak through the roof and cause water damage to the ceilings.  Ice dam is covered on an HO3 policy; it is not covered on an HO2 policy.

Water below the surface of the ground that seeps in through the basement walls.  There is no coverage for this; however, if at the same time, water is backing up through the sewers or drains and you have the water and sewer backup endorsement, it is possible that you could get coverage.

Mold. Whenever you have water damage, there is potential for mold.  There may be limited coverage for mold, or no coverage at all.  Each company has their own parameters for mold coverage and you will need to find out how yours is handed.

This information has been a discussion on part of the coverage for a Homeowners Policy (the home that you live in).  If you own rented property or commercial property, many of these comments still apply but there are some differences.