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Your foundation is covered by homeowners insurance like any other part of your home. However, many causes of foundation damage are explicitly excluded from standard policies.
Familiarize yourself with the many different events that can cause foundation damage and whether or not your homeowners policy will cover it.
When is house foundation damage covered by homeowners insurance?
Any damage to your foundation is covered unless your policy excludes it. That may seem confusing. To make it clearer, picture that there are two types of risk events: those your homeowners insurance company accepts and those it rejects. The ones your company accepts, like tornadoes and fires, will be covered should they wreck your home. The events your company generally rejects, such as earthquakes and floods, are considered too risky, so your company won't take responsibility for the damage.
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Events that are covered by most home insurance policies
For your foundation repairs to be covered by insurance, they have to be caused by an event your company accepts. Events that homeowners policies generally cover that could cause foundation damage are below.
- Lightning or fire
- Damage caused by aircraft
- Riots or civil disturbances
- Damage caused by vehicles
- Falling objects
- Volcanic eruption
- Collapse from the weight of snow, ice or sleet
- Water damage from plumbing, heating or air conditioning overflow
If any of the above caused your foundation damage, then you can file a claim for your insurance company to reimburse you for the repairs.
Events that aren't covered by most home insurers
Unfortunately, many of the common reasons for foundation damage are events your company won't take responsibility for. If any of the following events caused the damage, your insurer will most likely reject your claim.
- Natural settling, cracking, shrinking, bulging or expansion of the foundation
- Earthquakes or floods
- Pressure from tree roots
- Faulty construction
Like earthquakes, floods require their own separate insurance policies, so the cost of these repairs won't be covered by your standard homeowners policy. Things like natural settling, tree roots and faulty construction are chalked up to the owner of the home being negligent, and negligence is also never covered by insurance.
How can your home insurance company help?
Some insurance companies offer policyholders access to a network of qualified contractors. Working with these prescreened contractors ensures that your claim and repairs are handled quickly. These contractors are usually in direct contact with your insurance company, meaning the entire process moves a lot faster. We provide a list of some home insurance companies that offer a network of contractors below.
|Farmers||Awards a five-year warranty to repairs made through approved contractors.|
|Liberty Mutual||You'll have access to a 24/7 home repair service.|
|Amica||Repairs come equipped with a three-year warranty. Additionally, the service can be used for renovations.|
What can you do if you're not covered by homeowners insurance?
You are faced with limited options besides paying out of pocket when the damage to your home's foundation isn't covered by insurance. Your best bet is to prove the damage was caused by something you are actually covered for. If your foundation shifted due to expanding soil caused by an internal flood, which was in turn caused by a burst pipe rather than a natural flood, you would actually be covered in this instance because homeowners policies cover internal floods.
The best way to assess damage to your home's foundation is to hire a contractor or foundation specialist. They will be able to tell you what caused the damage, which you can then use to decide whether a homeowners claim would be successful. The evidence or materials they present can also help you make a case for coverage.
For future reference, if you live in an earthquake-prone area like California or a flood-prone area such as Florida, you should strongly consider adding those policies. It's likely that a powerful storm or flood will damage more than just the foundation of your home. Considering the average flood insurance claim is $30,000, you should definitely consider adding coverage.
How to prevent foundation damage
There are also several measures you can take to protect your home's foundation. The most common cause of foundation trouble is shifting soil. The soil beneath your home moves dynamically based on the moisture (or lack thereof) within. You want to make sure your home has a good system to deal with water when there are heavy rains and floods so that the moisture is not trapped in your soil.
Conversely, if you live in an area prone to drought, you should have a system to periodically water your yard to ensure it retains a good level of moisture. Speaking with a foundation specialist would help you better understand these systems for your home.
You can also prevent future problems by scheduling a thorough inspection of the home before moving in. Poor construction is not covered by insurance, so you will want to inspect the foundation before you are responsible for it. If your inspector determines the foundation to be poorly built, you should strongly consider passing on the home.
How do you file a claim for foundation damage?
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After consulting with a professional, if you have determined the cause of the damage is something you're covered for, you can file a homeowners claim like you would for any other type of damage. Since most of what you are covered for are sudden events, you should contact the professional at your earliest convenience after the event. If it was a tornado, for example, call your contractor as soon as possible after the storm has passed, and then contact the insurer. If the damage was due to vandalism, you need to call the police and obtain a copy of the police report.
After filing the claim, your homeowners insurance company will send a claims adjuster to assess the damage. This is where the assessment of your contractor or foundation specialist will be important. If the adjuster contends the damage was due to natural wear and tear, or something you are not covered for, your contractor will be able to vouch for you.
How much are you covered for?
You will be covered up to the limits of your policy. Most standard homeowners policies begin at around $250,000 of dwelling coverage, but your coverage limit may be higher. Foundation repairs usually won't exceed $100,000, however, in the vast majority of cases.