When water damages a home, insurance may cover the problem in varying ways. The first step is to determine whether it’s caused by flooding or other water-related problems. Flood insurance is a separate policy that provides for certain water related damages as determined by FEMA. When water damage is found to be caused by an event other than flooding, a typical homeowners insurance policy will cover the problem.
Water damage can be broken down into a few major categories in the eyes of insurers. Here’s a closer look at the different types so you can be prepared should water damage affect your home.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) reports that flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States. Flooding occurs when two or more acres of normally dry land are submerged, or at least two properties are affected by rising water, according to the NFIP.
When a home is damaged by outside flooding due to a natural disaster or storm water, a conventional homeowners insurance policy does not cover the damage. Rather, a separate flood insurance policy is needed.
Flooding could be from recurring rains that raise water levels in affected areas. Catastrophic flooding caused by the aftermath of a hurricane is covered only by flood insurance. As rivers, dams, and oceans continue to raise water levels even after the winds abate, flood insurance is needed to cover these damages.
If water impacts a house directly during a storm due to leaks from roof or structural damage, this falls under most home insurance policies. The difference lies in when the damage occurs. In order to be considered covered under a homeowner’s policy, the damage from water must be Immediate as the storm rages and not due to rising waters after the storm passes.
Sudden or Accidental Discharge
Modern conveniences also lead to modern water problems. Sudden leaks that impact the home for a short time that are caused by plumbing, AC and heating units, or fire extinguishing units are covered by a typical homeowners insurance policy. This could also include sprinkler systems outside the home as well as damage caused by frozen pipes.
In order for residents to make this claim, materials must be considered in good working order and not neglected, lest the claim be denied. Insurers recommend inspecting pipes and units regularly and completing maintenance as soon as it is needed.
Just as storm damage is deemed different from flooding by area impacted and timing, mold damage is judged the same way. Did a mold problem occur due to leaks incurred during a storm or because of rising waters after the storm abated? If the mold damage happened because of hurricane or storm damage to the structure of a home, it is usually covered by the homeowners policy. If not, it falls under flood insurance.
If water damage occurs in your home, the best thing to do is to take steps to minimize mold damage through ventilation and mold arresting agents until your insurer can help you begin the clean-up process.
Sewer or Water Backup
Water damage in a home caused by sewer backups is covered by an endorsement that is added to regular home insurance policy. Once covered, you can claim damages no matter where the backup originated. This policy does not cover leaking from water features outside the home like a fountain or in-ground swimming pool.
Be Prepared for Water Damage
The Insurance Information Institute (III) found that one in fifty homes files a claim for property damage caused by water or freezing each year. Since water is one of the biggest culprits in home damages, it’s important to understand your coverage. These categories are the general areas insurers consider when assessing problems in your home. However, if you have questions regarding your property, it’s important to discuss specific concerns with your insurance agent.
The III and NFIP urge all homeowners to purchase flood insurance whether living in a high-risk flood zone or not. Homeowners can also minimize the risk of other water damage by inspecting plumbing, AC and heating units, and sprinkler systems on a regular basis. Be vigilant and maintain your property to the best of your ability. That way, when an accident happens, you’re covered.