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Are water leaks covered in house insurance?

Updated February 21, 2019

Insure.com reports that water damage is a leading reason why policyholders file claims on their homeowner's insurance. Still, you have to be particularly careful of the terminology you use when describing water damage to your insurance agent. Depending on the extent of your coverage, your homeowner's policy may cover the damage a sudden water leak causes, but will not pay to repair what caused the problem in the first place.

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Homeowner's insurance does not cover damages caused by leaking pipes inside your home. Generally, insurers consider this type of damage to be the result of negligence. You can help prevent against water damage caused by leaky pipes by routinely inspecting your home's plumbing. Keep all fixtures well maintained and fix any minor problems immediately. Check your heating and cooling systems, sprinkler system and household appliances. If you ignore repairing even a small leak, it could eventually lead to more serious damage. In most cases, a homeowner's policy covers water damage caused by water pipes that freeze and burst. However, the insurance company may deny your claim if you left your home unoccupied without heat.

Storm Damage

A typical homeowner's policy covers storm damage or damages caused by severe weather conditions. If the insurance adjuster determines that water damage was due to rain getting inside your home from a hole in the roof or a window broken by high winds, the insurance company will pay for the loss under the terms of your policy. Although your insurance company will probably pay for damages inside your home if water leaks through your roof during a heavy rainstorm, the company may not reimburse you for the cost of roof repairs. Insurance companies usually consider a leaky roof a maintenance problem.

Other Sources of Water Damage

Most standard homeowner's insurance policies do not cover water damages from drains or sewer backups. These events are specifically excluded from a homeowner's policy, but, for an added cost, you can purchase a supplemental policy to cover the loss. Likewise, water seeping from the ground into your basement is not covered, even if it damages your home's foundation. This type of water damage occurs gradually over time instead of as the result a sudden, unexpected event. If an appliance such as a washing machine or dishwasher breaks without warning and floods your kitchen, your homeowner's insurance may pay for the water damage to your home but not to repair the appliance. Purchasing replacement parts or a new appliance would fall under the category of maintenance.

Definition of Flood

If a broken water pipe or appliance is responsible for flooding your kitchen or basement, be specific about the cause when talking to your insurance agent. Be careful not to use the word "flood" when describing the event. Homeowner's insurance does not cover damages caused by flood. You need a separate flood insurance policy to cover losses from water that floods your home as a result of an overflow of a lake, creek, stream or river. Flood insurance is available in communities that participate in the government's National Flood Insurance Program (see Resources). Any events, such as floodwaters, that are excluded from coverage are named in your policy. Other policy exclusions may include damages due to mould, fungus and wet rot.

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About the Author

Amber Keefer has more than 25 years of experience working in the fields of human services and health care administration. Writing professionally since 1997, she has written articles covering business and finance, health, fitness, parenting and senior living issues for both print and online publications. Keefer holds a B.A. from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. in health care management from Baker College.

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