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Your foundation is covered by homeowners insurance like any other part of your home. Unlike other parts 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 Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Repairs to House Foundation?
Any damage to your foundation is covered unless your policy explicitly 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 damages caused. For your foundation repairs to be covered by insurance, they have to be caused by an event your company 'accepts'. Events homeowners policies generally cover that could cause foundation damage are:
Events You are Covered for
- Lightning or fire
- Collapse weight of snow, ice, or sleet
- Riots or civil disturbances
- Falling objects
- Water damage from plumbing, heating, or A.C. overflow
- Damage caused by aircraft
- Damage caused by vehicles
- Volcanic eruption
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 You are Not Covered For
Unfortunately, many of the common reasons for foundation damage are events your company won't take responsibility for. If any of the following caused the damage however, your insurer will most likely reject your claim.
- Natural settling, cracking, shrinking, bulging, or expansion of the foundation
- Earthquakes or Flood
- Pressure from tree roots
- Faulty construction
Earthquakes and floods require their own separate insurance policies so unless you have one of them, the cost of your 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.
What to Do If the Damage to Your Foundation is Not Covered by Homeowners Insurance
You are faced with limited options beside 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 flood-prone area like Florida, you should strongly consider adding those policies. It is likely a powerful storm or flood will do more damage to your home beside just the foundation. Considering the average flood insurance claim is $30,000, you should definitely consider adding it.
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 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 and land 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 having a thorough inspection on 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 to File a Claim for a Damaged Home Foundation
After consulting with a professional, and 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 the next best convenience after the event. If it was a tornado for example, call your the 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 your 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 yours can be higher. Foundation repairs usually won't exceed $100,000 however in the vast majority of cases.