Flooding washing machine.

Does Insurance Cover Water Leaks?

Updated February 1, 2020 . AmFam Team

Your standard homeowners insurance policy does cover some costs associated with water damage, but not all types of water damage are covered. Typically, a standard 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 not covered if it’s something that’s been occurring over an extended period of time, many times hidden from view.

Person cleaning flooding from broken pipe, water leak.

Common sources of hidden water leak damage in the home include:

  • Leaking from plumbing system
  • Home appliance, like dishwasher
  • Fire protection sprinkler systems
  • Heating or air conditioning system

Typical spaces where hidden water damage is found include walls, crawl spaces, ceilings, cabinets, under floors and behind or under home appliances.

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. We’re here to clear up the confusion around the things you worry about, so you understand how your home insurance, with the help of some additional coverages, protects you in the event of hidden water damage.

Person catching ceiling leak with a bucket.

Hidden Water Coverage

Want to ensure your home is prepped with the best protection for water damage? Consider American Family Insurance’s Hidden Water Coverage, which covers water damage hidden from view that’s caused by continuous or repeated seepage or leakage of water or steam from within a plumbing, heating or air conditioning system, or from within a household appliance. The hidden water leak can result from wear and tear, deterioration, corrosion or rust from your home’s internal systems.

Simply put, it covers the cost to repair damage done by a water leak you can’t see within the walls, floors, ceilings, cabinets, beneath the floors or behind or under a home appliance. A homeowners policy normally doesn’t protect you from many types of water damage — including hidden water leaks. That’s why this coverage is so important to have. Adding this optional coverage will provide a wider breadth of protection for water damage that sneaks up and causes expensive damage to your home.

Keep in mind, this coverage provides protection for resulting damage, not the appliance or system where the leak originated.

Man fixing bathroom sink.

Does homeowners insurance cover water damage from leaking plumbing?

You’ll be covered for plumbing leaks if it’s sudden, accidental and significant enough that it’s discovered right away. But again, most homeowners insurance policies exclude damages that occur gradually. So, if that damage from the leaking pipe happened over the course of several weeks or more, it probably 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. However, with the Hidden Water coverage, this type of event could be covered.

Home with a water leak and flooding.

Does homeowners insurance cover water damage from broken pipes?

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 and was hidden from view, your policy won’t cover you because this is considered a maintenance issue rather than an accidental loss — unless you have Hidden Water coverage.

Leaking pipes with ceiling damage.

Does homeowners insurance cover water damage in crawl spaces?

Attics and crawl spaces are typically used only for storage, and pipes that run through these areas are likely hidden from view. So, damage related to the plumbing system that occurs over an extended period of time could be covered by Hidden Water coverage.

Maintenance person fixing leaking kitchen sink.

Does homeowners insurance cover water damage from dishwashers?

Your home insurance would cover sudden and accidental damage caused by your dishwasher, or other types of appliances like your refrigerator or washing machine. However, if the damage was due to a slow, hidden leak that occurred over a period of time, hidden water damage coverage could help cover the cost to repair or replace the damage.

For example, if the water supply line to the ice maker on your fridge cracks and starts leaking slowly, hidden from your view, your standard policy won’t cover you. But the Hidden Water coverage could help cover repair or replacement costs.

Maintenance person fixing leaking sink.

Water Leaking Prevention Tips

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.

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.

Furnace and air conditioning maintenance. One of the most common sources of water leakage that causes hidden damage comes from your furnace and air conditioner. Make sure to have your furnace and air conditioning unit inspected on a yearly basis to ensure all the drains are clear and functioning properly.

When it comes to having confidence in your coverage, we’re here to guide you. Learn more about your home insurance coverage options or get a quick home insurance estimate here to gain peace of mind you’re protecting what matters most.

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