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Home insurance is complex, and one of the most confusing areas for homeowners is flood insurance. Most policies cover some types of water damage, but it all depends on the cause. Here’s what homeowners need to know about flood insurance.
If water damage is caused by a sudden, unexpected event, it is usually covered by homeowners insurance. But if the water damage is caused by the homeowner’s fault, such as a lack of maintenance, coverage is generally not available.
For example, if a water pipe does burst, the insurance company will usually cover the cost of repairs resulting from the burst pipe. But if it’s corroded, many people won’t cover it. This was not considered an unexpected event as anyone looking at the pipe could see that it could fail very quickly.
Whether to cover mold damage and remove it also depends on the cause of the water damage. If the homeowner is deemed responsible for the damage, they will be required to pay for the repairs themselves.
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Here are the details on what types of water damage home insurance policies typically cover:
As mentioned above, most homeowners insurance covers pipes that burst unexpectedly, provided they were properly maintained before the burst.
Rainwater damage is usually covered if your roof or home is damaged by severe weather. For example, if a tornado takes the roof off a home, the insurance company will cover the resulting rainwater damage. Or, if a window is broken by hail during a storm, the resulting rain damage may also be covered.
Similar to broken pipes, water main breaks should be covered as long as they occur inside the house and are not the fault of the homeowner due to poor maintenance.
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Sump pump failure is typically not covered by basic homeowners insurance. But most insurance companies allow customers to purchase additional coverage to protect against damage caused by a failed sump pump.
If your kitchen catches fire and the fire department causes significant damage while extinguishing the flames, your homeowners policy should cover water damage as well as fire and smoke damage.
Although flooding is technically unforeseeable, traditional homeowners insurance does not cover flooding due to the high cost of repairing flood damage. But homeowners can still purchase flood protection. Please read for more details.
Rusted or corroded pipes are considered a maintenance issue, and any damage caused by a burst pipe is not covered by your home insurance policy. Homeowners who notice signs of wear on their pipes should take immediate steps to repair or replace them.
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Coverage is not provided if roof leaks and resulting damage occur due to age of the roof. Homeowners must take steps to replace their roof before it starts leaking to avoid costly water damage to the home.
Leaking toilets, water heaters or other water-using fixtures in your home are generally not covered by home insurance because the damage is often caused by negligence rather than an acute accident. Homeowners are responsible for routine maintenance of their equipment to keep it in good condition. When a leak occurs, homeowners should contact a repairman immediately. You’ll need separate equipment breakdown coverage to cover or even replace equipment that suddenly breaks down.
Water that enters your home due to drains or sewage backup is unlikely to be covered by your homeowners policy. If you’re concerned that these problems may occur, you can get sewer or water backup coverage in addition to your basic policy.
Public water main breaks are usually the responsibility of local municipalities, not homeowners. Therefore, a typical homeowners insurance policy will not cover the resulting damage. However, the portion of the pipe that runs from the water meter to your home may be your responsibility and may be covered.
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Flooding is an obvious form of water damage, especially for concerned homeowners who are dealing with the mess they leave behind. But from the perspective of home insurance companies, the two are different. Flooding is usually caused by natural disasters like heavy rain or hurricanes, while coverage water damage is usually caused by a burst pipe or fixture of some kind, although storm damage can be a contributing factor.
Homeowners who want protection from flooding must invest in separate flood insurance. These policies are offered by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and specifically cover flood damage. They can be expensive, but they can also provide homeowners with valuable protection. Some mortgage lenders even require homeowners to purchase flood insurance if they live in an area prone to flooding.
Kailey Hagen has been writing about small business and finance for nearly 10 years, and her work has appeared on USA Today, CNN Business, Fox Business and MSN Money. She specializes in personal and business banking accounts and small and medium-sized business software. She lives in northern Wisconsin on an almost farm with her husband and three dogs.
Kristi Waterworth has been a writer since 1995, when words on paper and card catalogs were cool. She has owned and operated many small businesses and developed expertise in digital (and paper) marketing, personal finance, and a hundred other things a small to medium business owner must know to survive. When she’s not knocking keys, Christie hangs out in the kitchen with her dog, dropping cheese haphazardly on the floor.
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Ashley Maready is a former history museum professional who branched out into digital content writing and editing in 2021. She holds a BA in history and philosophy from Hood College and an MA in applied history from Shippensburg University. Ashley enjoys creating content for the public and learning new things so she can teach others, whether it’s about salt mining, canal mules, or personal finance.
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