Published: June 2015
You're catching up on some laundry and everything's going fine. The next thing you know, water starts gushing across your floor when your washing machine water supply hose suddenly fails. You get the water mopped up, but a few days later your wood laminate floor starts buckling. So, you may wonder, will your homeowners insurance cover the damage?
In this case, your insurance policy will likely provide coverage. Most standard homeowners policies provide protection from water damage if the cause is sudden and accidental. According to the Insurance Information Institute, you'll likely be protected if, for instance, your drywall is drenched after your water heater ruptures or an upstairs pipe bursts and water saturates the ceiling below.
Homeowners insurance does not cover all types of water damage, however.
Damage from unresolved maintenance issues: While your insurance will probably help cover the cost of replacing or repairing a damaged floor if your dishwasher suddenly goes on the fritz, coverage generally will not kick in if the damage results from an unresolved maintenance issue, such as continuous leaking near a faucet or other plumbing fixture.
Replacing or repairing the source of the water damage: Most insurance policies will not cover the source of the water damage. So while your policy may cover the cost of tearing out and replacing that damaged floor, you shouldn't expect it to cover the cost of replacing your broken dishwasher or washing machine.
Water backup from an outside sewer or drain: You also will not typically be covered by a traditional homeowners policy if water backs into your home through an outside sewer or drain. You may, however, be able to purchase additional sewer or water backup coverage that may help provide protection in case of such an event.
Flood: No type of flood damage, no matter the source of the water, is covered by standard homeowners policies. Flooding, for example, can occur from storms, over-saturated ground, overflowing or surging bodies of water such as rivers, ponds, lakes and oceans, You can, however, purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program.
Of course, you'd probably prefer not to have to deal with a soggy situation in the first place. You can help prevent the inconvenience and mess that often accompanies unexpected water damage. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety suggests the following:
- Inspect hoses to washing machines, water heaters, dishwashers and refrigerator ice makers for wear regularly and replace as needed (or at least every five years).
- Be careful not to crimp a water hose or pull it loose when moving a dishwasher, washing machine or refrigerator.
- Drain water heaters every six months to prevent sediment buildup.
- Help prevent frozen pipes by maintaining the heat in your home, insulating pipes, and opening cabinet doors to expose pipes to warm air.
- Inspect the water shut-off valve regularly and replace if needed.
While it's important to keep up with home maintenance to help prevent any damage from water, it's also a good idea to check with your agent about what is and isn't covered by your homeowners policy. Be sure to ask if there are any additional coverages available that may be appropriate for your home.