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Water Damage: What’s Covered by Insurance?

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Insurance May 18, 2018
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Lindsay Cutler

It may not be readily apparent what kind of water damage is covered by your homeowners insurance policy and what isn’t. Leaks? Mold? Floods? Here are best practices regarding water damage from most insurance providers, but as always, make sure to check your specific policy*. (Pro tip: telling your insurance company you have a Flo may reduce your premiums!)

 

What’s Covered:

Sudden accidents and pipe failure

In the event of a pipe freeze, sudden pipe bursts, or other unforeseen plumbing failures, your insurance usually covers this and the ensuing repairs. If it’s deemed “sudden and internal,” it’s usually covered.

Rain and snow storms

If a rain or snow storm made a hole in the roof and wreaks havoc in your living room, your insurance will typically cover the cost of repairs to your home. However, it’s best to have a separate property damage policy if you want to recoup the cost of your TV or other personal belongings damaged by the leak.

Fixture and appliance overflow

If your toilets, sinks, washers or other fixtures or appliances accidentally overflow, insurance will pick up the tab on repairs. However, it’s unlikely they’ll pay to fix or replace the faulty appliance.

Mold from water leaks

If mold grows as a result of a sudden burst or rain storm,  mold removal and cleaning should be a regular part of your water damage protection as long as it’s the result of a sudden internal damage and not an unresolved maintenance issue on your end.

 

What’s Not Covered:

Flooding

It might seem like splitting hairs, but your insurance company will only cover damage caused by water that came from inside the apartment, not outside. The rule of thumb is, if the water hits your house directly, you’re covered. But if the water touches the ground first before entering your home, you’re not.

When a rain or snow storm pounds directly on your roof causing a leak, your policy will likely handle this (but only damages to the inside of your home is covered — not the external roof repair!). But if you want protection against floods, rising sea levels, ground water overflow (also known as seepage) or sewer pipe backups, you’ll need additional flood insurance.

Gradual damage

If your water damage is the result of slow, gradual damage over time —such as leak that’s never been fixed — that’s considered homeowner neglect and the insurance company won’t pay for the repairs. Flo was engineered to detect the kinds of slow, pervasive leaks that lead to long term water damage in your home. It’s a smart way to protect your home and a great way to avoid disputes with your insurance company!

Appliance or fixture replacement

As mentioned earlier, your policy will cover the cost of repairs from a fixture malfunction — although it won’t actually pay to replace the offending fixture. Insurance will pay to remove mold in the kitchen caused by a suddenly leaking dishwasher, but it’s your responsibility alone to fix or repair it.

*These list includes general practices put into place by most insurance companies, but again, these are not hard and fast rules and they don’t apply to every homeowner insurance policy, let alone every provider. Read your policy carefully and speak with your insurance company directly to get as much information as possible about how your home is protected is insured.

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