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Water Damage

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage Or Flood Damage?

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 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.

What Type of Water Damage Is Covered by Homeowners Insurance?

Say you wake up to find your basement flooded due to a faulty washing machine. Your beautiful, newly renovated wood floor is sopping wet and damaged beyond repair. 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, it won’t cover a slowly leaking pipe that drips water onto drywall over a period of several weeks before being discovered. But it does cover a pipe that bursts and quickly floods the bathroom. 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:

Understanding Dwelling Coverage & Water Damage

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.

Understanding Personal Property Coverage & Water Damage

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.

FAQs: Water Damage Insurance & Claims

From burst frozen pipes, to leaking plumbing, sewer backups 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. 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 slowly leaked for several weeks, your policy won’t cover you because this is considered a maintenance issue rather than an accidental loss.

    You may want to add a hidden water coverage endorsement to help protect you from costly issues that aren’t readily visible. It helps cover the cost to repair damages from hidden water leaks you can’t see in the walls, floors, ceilings, cabinets, beneath the floors — even behind or under a home appliance. Be sure to check in with your agent to learn if these and other key endorsements are active in your homeowners policy.

  2. You’ll be covered for plumbing leaks 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.

    We suggest you purchase a hidden water coverage endorsement to better protect you from leaks and issues that aren’t visible. It’s extra protection that helps cover the cost to repair damages from hidden water leaks you can’t see in the walls, floors, ceilings, cabinets, beneath the floors — even behind or under a home appliance.

  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. If water seeps from the ground into your basement or other part of your home, this is considered a maintenance issue and is generally not covered. Seepage could be covered if it’s part of a flooding event and you have flood insurance, but otherwise, you’ll need to take steps to protect your home from water seeping in before it happens.

  7. If the water damage in your basement is caused by a covered event, the damage could be covered by your homeowners insurance. This includes burst pipes and sudden leaks caused by accidental damage, among other events.

  8. Water damage caused by lack of routine maintenance to your home or damage covered by a form of insurance you don’t have — like flood or sump pump overflow coverage — won’t be covered by your homeowners insurance.

  9. Water damage happens when you least expect it, but with American Family, we’ll help you recover from water damages in your home as quickly as possible. Reporting a home insurance claim through the MyAmFam app or My Account is the fastest way for our claims representatives to help restore your dreams. And by initiating your claim with one of these options, you’ll also experience additional benefits including:

    • Filing anywhere, any time
    • Tracking the status of your claim
    • Easily communicating with your claims representative by email or phone

    Don’t have MyAmFam? Get it on the App Store or the Google Play Store.

    And as always, you can call us at 1-800-MYAMFAM (1-800-692-6326) to speak directly with a claims representative or contact your American Family Insurance agent.

    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

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. Be sure to talk to your agent about adding these vital endorsements to your policy:

Sump pump failure and water backup coverage

Your sump pump removes excess water that may accumulate around your home’s foundation, and if the system ever fails, overflow may occur. Adding a sump pump overflow coverage rider is key for customers who have a finished basement.

Sewer and water line coverage

If 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 ask your agent about septic back-up coverage to protect against back-ups from those systems.

Hidden water coverage

Take the extra step of protecting your savings with hidden water coverage, which helps cover the cost of water damage that isn’t readily visible. It covers damage from leaks you can’t see in floors, walls, ceilings, cabinets — even under or behind your home’s appliances.

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Are You Ready for a Home 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 your American Family Insurance agent today to learn more about how your home insurance protects you from water damage.

This coverage is not available in MN at this time.

Some coverages may not be available in your state or on your specific policy form. Please speak with your agent to learn more about your coverage options.