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Water Damage Insurance Claim Tips (Updated 2020)

What Kinds of Water Damage Does Insurance Cover and Exclude?

Let’s take a quick look at what’s typically covered, what’s not covered, and what you can expect your insurance company to pay for.

When Insurance Covers Water Damage

Almost all standard homeowners insurance policies cover “sudden and accidental” water damage inside the property. This is usually caused by an unforeseen and unpreventable problem, like a burst water heater or a ruptured pipe.

In these instances, your insurance company will likely cover the cost to dry and repair your property.

Examples of Water Damage Homeowners Insurance Will Cover

  • Pipe breaks or bursts
  • Malfunctioning appliances, like water heaters, dishwashers, or washing machines flooding your house
  • Toilet overflows or water back-ups from a sump pump or sewer line within the property
  • Falling rain water
  • Ice dams and roof leaks
  • Plumbing or water leaks that are quickly discovered and addressed

When Insurance Doesn’t Cover Water Damage

Most insurance companies will deny your claim if the water damage was a result of “gradual damage”, negligence, or external water sources entering your property.

Examples of Water Damage Homeowners Insurance Won’t Cover

  • Gradual damage from an on-going leak or water seepage from a crack in the foundation
  • Damage from poor maintenance, negligence, or wear and tear
  • The cost of plumbing repairs or replacement
  • External rising water (floods, river overflows, hurricanes, etc.)
  • Back ups from a sewer line, drain, or sump pump outside of your property

Some Insurers Might Cover Hidden Gradual Damage or Water Leaks

Gradual damage means damage that results from the “gradual release of water over an extended period of time”. For example, if a visibly leaking dishwasher damaged your home over the course of a few months, your insurance company might not accept your claim. 

But what if you didn’t know you had a leak because the pipe was hidden behind a wall?

Like we keep saying, everything boils down to the wording in your policy

Fortunately, there are some providers who understand it’s impossible to know if you have a leak until the signs of water damage start to show. In some instances, they’ll accept your claim as long as you address the situation quickly and it isn’t a clear result of negligence.

If you’re not sure whether your insurance will cover water damage caused by a leaky pipe or appliance, review the exclusions and exact wording of your policy with your insurance agent.

Types of Water Damage Insurance Claims

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