Does homeowners insurance cover foundation repairs?

Last updated: January 1

Homeowners insurance is your safety net in case of sudden disasters: If a windstorm damages the side of your home or a car crashes into your fence, your policy may cover you.

Foundation damage can be caused by many factors, from how your home settles over time to severe drought. While some may be covered, others may not.

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When insurance may help with foundation issues

It all boils down to the cause of the foundation issues. If your home is destroyed by a tornado, homeowners insurance may help cover reconstruction.

Other scenarios where foundation damage may be covered include plumbing backups, fires and explosions.

Review your homeowners policy to ensure your foundation is covered.

When foundation issues may not be covered

Most homeowners policies don't cover floods or earthquakes. If your foundation damage is a result of either of these disasters, you'll likely need separate flood or earthquake insurance.

Homeowners insurance typically doesn't cover wear and tear. Home foundations shift over time, which can lead to cracks in your home's structure. Like repainting a faded wall or clearing your gutters, keeping tabs on an aging foundation is considered the homeowner's responsibility.

Knowing what can damage your foundation is the key to protecting it. According to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), here are issues that can lead to foundation problems and might not be covered by insurance:

Preconstruction and ground preparation

Soil misuse is a leading cause of foundation damage. Your home's weight will condense the soil beneath it over time. If the soil was compacted unevenly at the start, your house may settle unevenly and begin to crack. If you're building a new home, consider using uniform soil as opposed to different soil types, which can be packed evenly and closely together to provide a sturdy base.

Improper drainage

Poor drainage can lead to wet and dry patches beneath your house. Wet patches tend to push, and dry patches tend to shrink. The ASHI calls it "differential movement", which can affect the foundation. Make sure your gutters are transporting water far enough away from your house.

Check that the ground is sloped away from, not toward, your house. Updated drainage helps prevent water damage and keeps moisture levels uniform.

Tree roots

A tree too close to your house can push against the home's structure. It can drain high volumes of the soil's water beneath your house, and a drastic change in moisture levels can have serious results.

Temperature changes

Hot and cold temperatures can cause water molecules in soil to shrink and expand. Over time, this can result in damage to your foundation.

A qualified contractor or foundation specialist can help you take measures and avoid problems before they start.