Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?
Mold, rot, structural damage — even just a little bit of water can cause a surprising amount of damage to your home and belongings.
According to the FEMA, just one inch of water intrusion is enough to cause nearly $27,000 worth of damage to a 2,500 square foot home. For larger homes, that single inch can cause more than $50,000 worth of damage — and it only goes up from there as the amount of water increases.
Knowing just how destructive water can be, it’s only natural to wonder whether or not water damage is covered by your homeowners insurance policy. Below, we take a closer look at when homeowners insurance does — and doesn’t — cover water damage.
Does homeowners insurance cover water damage?
Ultimately, whether or not homeowners insurance covers water damage will depend on the source of the water and the types of coverage you have.
Generally speaking, your policy will cover water damage if it is:
- The result of a covered event, and not an exclusion
- Sudden and unexpected, and not the result of a gradual leak
- Not the result of flooding
If the damage is covered, the different parts of your policy will kick in to help cover different kinds of expenses. Your dwelling coverage will help you pay to repair the physical structure of the house — such as your flooring, carpet, walls, etc. that was damaged by the water. Your personal property coverage, on the other hand, will help you pay to repair or replace some or all of your belongings damaged by the water.
In both cases, you will need to meet your deductible before coverage kicks in. It’s also important to be mindful of coverage limits, which dictate the maximum amount of coverage offered.
Does homeowners insurance cover water damage from plumbing?
In many cases, yes. If a plumbing-related issue, such as a burst pipe, results in a sudden discharge of water that damages your home or belongings, that damage will likely be covered by your homeowners insurance policy.
There are exceptions, however. If the plumbing issue was the result of improper installation, lack of maintenance, wear-and-tear, negligence, or an exclusion, then it is not typically covered.
Does homeowners insurance cover water damage from an appliance failing?
Many home appliances — including dishwashers, washing machines, hot water heaters, and refrigerators — are connected to a water source. If these appliances fail, they can suddenly discharge a large amount of water, resulting in damage to your home.
In most cases, damage resulting from an appliance failure will be covered by your homeowners insurance policy, as long as the failure wasn’t the result of a lack of maintenance, normal wear and tear, or improper installation. If the failure was caused by improper installation, and the appliance was installed by a professional, their business liability insurance may cover the damage.
That being said, your policy typically won’t cover the cost of repairing or replacing the appliance itself.
Does homeowners insurance cover a leaking roof?
Here again, it depends on the cause of the leak.
If your roof is suddenly damaged by a covered event, resulting in a leak, the cost to repair your roof and any resulting water damage caused by leaks would most likely be covered. Common examples may include a leak caused by a hailstorm that makes you lose a few shingles, or a tree branch that falls under the weight of snow, punching a hole in your roof.
If, on the other hand, the leak is simply the result of an aging roof that needs to be replaced, the water damage would most likely not be covered.
The same rules generally apply to leaks found elsewhere in your home — such as around windows, or walls. If the leak was caused by a covered event, the water damage will most likely be covered.
Does homeowners insurance cover water damage from flooding?
No. Because floods are listed as an exclusion in the vast majority of homeowners insurance policies, water damage caused by flooding will not typically be covered.
While each policy may define the term “flood” slightly differently, this typically includes water incursion into your home whether it is caused by heavy rains, runoff, ground saturation, rising tides, overflowing rivers and streams, and more.
While a standard homeowners insurance policy won’t cover flood damage, you can purchase flood insurance separately. Doing so will provide coverage specifically against flooding, and is recommended (and sometimes required) for homes in flood zones.
Does homeowners insurance cover sewer or water backups?
Generally speaking, no. Most homeowners insurance policies do not automatically cover water damage caused by a sewer line, drain, pipe, septic tank, or sump pump backing up into your home.
That being said, as with flood insurance, you can add a rider to your policy to purchase additional coverage against these risks. Such riders are typically referred to as water backup coverage and are fairly affordable.
Does homeowners insurance cover mold?
If your homeowners insurance policy covers the cause of the water damage, then it will also likely cover costs related to mold removal and remediation. This is especially true if the cause was sudden and unexpected.
Mold damage caused by negligence, flooding, water/sewer backup, or a slow and steady leak will most likely not be covered by your policy. Other mold-related exclusions may include improperly sealed doors and windows, poor ventilation, and the improper installation of appliances.
Some carriers may offer a mold rider that you can add to your policy to remove some or all of the exclusions mentioned above.
Water damage not typically covered by homeowners insurance
Most standard homeowners insurance policies do not cover water damage caused by the following exclusions:
- Water or sewer backup
- Sump pump failure
- Improper installation of plumbing or appliances
- General wear and tear
- Lack of maintenance
Likewise, when homeowners insurance covers water damage, it typically does not cover the cost of repairing or replacing the source of the water. For example, if your hot water heater failed suddenly and discharged water, your policy would most likely cover the costs related to the water damage, but would not cover the cost of replacing the hot water heater itself.
If you are unsure whether or not a specific type of water damage is covered by your policy, it’s recommended that you call your carrier to walk you through the ins and outs of your coverage. If you’re a Matic customer, we’re also happy to help!
Protecting your family from water damage
Water can be an incredibly destructive force if it gets into your home. The good news is, there are steps you can take to make sure that your family is protected. This includes:
- Purchasing flood insurance: If your home is in a flood zone, purchasing flood insurance can be one of the smartest steps you can take to protect your home — and your mortgage lender might even require it. FEMA has a map that you can check to see if your home is at risk.
- Considering additional riders: When it comes to water damage, there are many exclusions that may prevent coverage. Purchasing riders against these specific exclusions can help keep you covered. Mold insurance and water/sewer backup coverage are two options you may want to consider.
- Thinking about personal property coverage: There is a limit to how much coverage your homeowners insurance policy offers for personal property. Depending on the value of your belongings, you may determine that this coverage isn’t enough to protect you against water damage. Consider increasing your personal property coverage limits, or purchasing a rider for scheduled personal property for additional coverage.
While it might be tough to totally prevent the possibility of water damaging your home and belongings, that doesn’t mean you have no control. Ensuring that you have the right coverage — whether in your base policy or through riders like flood insurance — can help you protect your family and home. At Matic, we’re all about making things easy. Get personalized quotes in a matter of seconds to begin saving now.