By Stephanie Ryder
Feb 15, 2010
Did you know that water damage is one of the most commonly cited reasons in claims on home insurance? This should not come as a total surprise considering the many possible causes of water damage – heavy rain, bursting of pipes, and the bathtub accidentally overflowing.
Despite the fact that water damage is a common claim, not all claims for damages due to similar causes will be paid by insurance companies. In fact, claiming on home insurance against water damage can be a tad bit complicated, if not downright tricky.
Claims are dealt with separately, taking into account the particular circumstances behind the damage. Essentially, the damages covered by your home insurance are those related to the risks specified in your policy.
Water damages usually covered by home insurance
In general, your home insurance probably covers water damages caused by accidents like when pipes suddenly burst, there’s a leak in the roof, or when water overflows from the sink, bathtub, dishwasher, or washing machine. But you will most likely need to prove that what happened was totally unintentional and beyond your control.
If a pipe bursts due to overheating, for example, and it happened at night when everybody was fast asleep, you might be able to collect for the damage if there’s no chance that you could have known that the temperature would continue to rise.
Damages caused by an overflowing bathtub may also be covered if you were in the middle of something that you cannot immediately drop to attend to the faucet. Forgetting to turn off the water may fly under the radar if you can present a plausible reason for the lapse.
When a home appliance suddenly breaks down and water overflows, the resulting damages will most likely be paid for by your insurance company. Note that the insurer’s liability is often limited to the water-related damages and does not extend to the repair of your appliance. You have to pay out of your own pocket for the appliance to be repaired.
It is also a good general rule that your homeowners insurance will cover damages that ensue when your roof leaks rain water due to strong storm winds.
Water damages generally not covered by home insurance
Home insurance coverage often does not include coverage for water damages that can be traced to neglect or poor maintenance. Take leaking roofs, for example. While damages caused by rain water are usually covered, the insurance may not pay if it can prove that your roof produced a leak because you have not maintained it at all.
Your home insurance also may not cover water damages caused by frozen pipes that burst. If a pipe freezes and bursts, and your insurance company concludes that it could have been prevented for one reason or another, you may be out of luck. In the end, it is best to take precautionary steps to avoid the occurrence of such incidents.
In addition, keep in mind that floods are usually excluded in home insurance coverage. If you need insurance against the risk of flooding because your location is susceptible to high waters, you will most likely need to obtain separate flood insurance.
How to protect your homeowners insurance claims
One of the best ways to make sure that your insurance company will not reject your claims on water damages is to maintain your house properly. This way, you eliminate a lot of opportunity to shift blame on you and your lack of maintenance.
However, there is probably no need to conduct monthly house maintenance. Perform an annual check of the entire house and have the necessary repair and maintenance work done at that time. This may include an inspection of your pipes, ceiling, roof, and water system.
You have invested much in your home and should take steps to protect it, its occupants, and contents from all possible risks. You can count on your home insurance to provide that protection but you still remain responsible for the regular upkeep and maintenance.
Do your part to prevent water damages and your home insurance should take care of those that you cannot control.
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