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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage and Flooding?

When it comes to protecting your home, you know insurance is key to safeguarding the things you work hard for in life. And, to really give you peace of mind, it’s important to know exactly how it protects you.

A common question many homeowners have is whether or not your home insurance covers you for water damage. Though we’d like to give you a simple yes for an answer, there’s a little more to it than that. Sure, your standard homeowners insurance policy covers some costs associated with water damage, however, not all types of water damage are covered.

We’re here to clear up the confusion and make sure that you understand how your home insurance, with the help of some additional coverages, protects you in the event of water damage.

Homeowners Insurance and Water Damage

Say you wake up to find your basement flooded due to a faulty washing machine — not good. Your beautiful, newly renovated wooden floor is sopping wet and will need to be replaced. Your first thought? Will my homeowners insurance pay for this mess?

The good news is that under most circumstances a standard home insurance policy covers appliance or plumbing related water damage that occurs due to sudden and accidental events that originate in your home. This means that water damage is usually covered if it’s not something that has been occurring over an extended period of time. For example a slowly leaking pipe that drips water on to drywall over a period of several weeks before being discovered is not covered. But a pipe that bursts and quickly floods the bathroom is covered. Keep in mind that in either case, repairs to plumbing or appliances that failed due to regular wear and tear aren’t covered — that’s considered routine maintenance.

When it comes to water damage and home insurance, it’s important to know the two main types of coverage on your policy that may apply:

Dwelling coverage. If the structure of your home is damaged by water due to a covered loss, dwelling coverage pays for the damage to the structure of your home.

Personal property coverage. If your personal belongings are damaged by water due to a covered loss, personal property coverage covers the cost to repair or replace your belongings.

From burst frozen pipes, to leaking plumbing, sewer backs ups and more, water can cause damage in your home in a variety of ways. So what kind of water damage is covered? Let’s take a look.

  1. Fortunately, your home insurance does cover damage from pipes that burst suddenly and accidentally, including the resulting water damage. But, if that pipe didn’t burst, but just slowly leaked for several weeks, your policy won’t cover you, as this is considered a maintenance issue rather than an accidental loss.

  2. You’ll be covered for leaking plumbing if it’s sudden, accidental and significant enough that it is discovered within seven days. But, again, most homeowners insurance policies exclude damages that occur gradually. So if that damage from that leaking pipe happened over the course of several weeks or more, it won’t be covered.

    For example, you notice your ceiling bulging and water stains forming on the drywall, so you decide to file a claim. The adjuster determines that a small leak in a valve caused the damage over a number of months. This damage won’t be covered, because it occurred gradually, rather than all at once.

  3. Yes, your standard homeowners policy covers water damage from rain if a storm opens a hole in your roof, allowing water to leak in. But if your roof already had worn out shingles or holes in its structure and just leaks because it’s worn out, we’ll pay for the resulting damage to the interior of your home, but not for the repair or replacement of your roof. That work is considered routine maintenance.

  4. With American Family Insurance, your homeowners policy offers replacement cost coverage for losses other than those caused by wind and hail. What does this mean for you? So long as the roof leak is caused by a covered loss, your policy covers the replacement cost minus the deductible.

    For instance, if a storm rolls through and lightning strikes a tree and the tree topples onto your roof causing a giant hole and water to leak through, your policy will cover the damages to the roof as well as damages to the interior of your home if it was water damaged.

    On the other hand, if the roof leaks due to wear and tear or lack of maintenance, repairs or replacement won’t be covered. Though the resulting damage to the interior of your home is still covered by your homeowners policy.

    One of the most common causes of damage to your roof is wind and hail damage. To fully protect your roof and home from water damages, you’ll want to check out roof replacement cost coverage for wind and hail damage.

  5. Your standard homeowners insurance policy doesn’t provide protection for flood damage. However, you can purchase a separate flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program. Take a look at our flood insurance page to find out more. To give you an idea, here are just a few ways flood insurance helps protect your home:

    • Covers your home and its foundation
    • Covers clothes, furniture, electronics and other possessions
    • Covers electrical and plumbing
    • Covers your carpeting, paneling, bookcases and cabinets
  6. Water damage happens when you least expect it, but with American Family, we’ll help you recover from water damages in your home quickly and with as little stress as possible. If you face water damage in your home, contact your agent, contact our claims department at 1-800-MYAMFAM or report a claim online.

    When reporting a claim, you’ll need the following information:

    • Your name, address and phone number
    • American Family Insurance policy number
    • Date and time of your loss
    • Brief description of what happened
    • Insurance and contact information for others involved

    Water cleanup can be a challenge, and if it’s not done correctly, it can cause even more damage. At American Family, our Emergency Water Removal Program (EWRP) helps you clean up the mess quickly and safely. With EWRP, you’ll choose from one of our preferred vendors who provide rapid and efficient removal of water in your home. The best part? The EWRP is included as a benefit under your home insurance policy, so long as the loss from water damage is covered, so you’ll only be responsible for paying your deductible. Here’s a better look at all the ways our Emergency Water Removal Program benefits you.


Protect Your Home from Water Damage

When it comes down to it, it’s best to prevent water damage from occurring in the first place. Here are a few ways you can protect your home from water damage:

Smart water leak sensors. Early detection systems like smart water leak detectors help detect and alert you of any water leaks, so you can take care of the problem before it causes too much damage.

Inspect your roof. Make any repairs to missing, rotten or damaged shingles. Here’s a closer look at roof maintenance and repair tips. Also, clean out your roof gutters so they don’t get clogged on a rainy day. Overflowing gutters can allow water to gather near your home’s foundation and find its way to your basement.

Fix issues promptly. Ignoring any moisture damage or putting off the repairs can cause mold, mildew, rot or structural damage to your home. Remember that your home insurance helps cover sudden and accidental water damage, but damage that’s a result of a lack of maintenance may not be covered by your policy.

Additional Water Damage Insurance Coverages

While your standard homeowners insurance policy protects you from water damage in many ways, it’s a good idea to have the following additional coverages to provide a broader level of coverage.

Sewer back-up, septic back-up and sump pump overflow coverage. Your sump pump removes excess water that may accumulate around your home’s foundation, and if the system ever fails, overflow may occur. Your homeowners policy doesn’t cover this type of damage unless you have sump pump overflow coverage. This type of coverage is especially important for customers who have a finished basement. Imagine investing your hard-earned money into renovating your basement only to have your sump pump fail and flood your new space. Not good — especially because a standard homeowners policy won’t cover you for this type of loss.

Depending on whether your home is connected to a municipal sewer, or it has a septic tank, you’ll also want to purchase either sewer back-up or septic back-up coverage to protect against back-ups from those systems.

Are You Ready for a Homeowners Insurance Quote?

Having homeowners insurance is one of the smartest decisions you can make, and understanding how it protects you gives you more confidence in your coverages. Connect with an American Family agent today learn more about how your home insurance protects you from water damage.