Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?

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Water damage is sometimes covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy, but not always. It depends on the cause. Sudden internal water damage is covered, but damage due to lack of maintenance, neglect or a flood is not.

It's not always easy to figure out when water damage is and isn't covered by your policy.

Table of contents:

When does homeowners insurance cover water damage?

Standard home insurance policies cover water damage if it is sudden and internal. The requirement is that the water has never touched the outside ground. This means the water damage must be the result of one of the 16 perils covered by homeowners insurance. These include sudden and accidental tearing, cracking, burning or bulging of a steam, heating, AC or automatic fire protection system.

When water damage is covered by homeowners insurance:

  • Rainstorm or snowstorm
  • Plumbing: burst pipes, frozen plumbing, faulty plumbing, accidental overflow
  • Water damage from extinguishing a fire
  • Leaking roof (coverage would apply only to the home interior, not the roof itself)
  • Accidental overflow of an appliance or fixture (toilet, washing machine, bathtub)
  • Vandalism
  • Mold (only as a result of covered water damage)

When does homeowners insurance exclude water damage?

Water damage isn't always covered if it's not the result of an accident or sudden, unexpected occurrence. Neglect or lack of maintenance resulting in water damage means you're on the hook for the cost of repairs. Certain situations where homeowners insurance does not cover water damage are:

  • Ground seepage
  • Water or sewer pipe backups
  • Flooding
  • Poorly maintained pipes leading to leaks

Standard policies don't cover water damage resulting from a flood, either. For that, you'll need flood insurance, especially if you live in an area prone to flooding, such as Louisiana.

Mold from water damage

Mold is all too common. It is often found after water damages your home, but rarely covered by homeowners insurance. It's expensive to rid your home of mold, possibly costing upward of $30,000. However, depending on the cause, your home insurance might help cover mold removal.

When is mold covered by homeowners insurance?

Mold is covered by your home insurance if it is the result of water damage from a covered peril. If a burst pipe or AC system overflow allows mold to grow, your insurance will cover all or some of the mold removal cost, because it's considered an extension of water damage.

Most homeowners insurance policies cover $5,000 of mold remediation, though it can range from $1,000 to $10,000. You can also buy a floater or endorsement that adds extra mold coverage to your policy.

Mold from water damage is generally covered by home insurance, as long as it's not due to lack of maintenance or neglect.

If a pipe in your home has leaked for months and gone without repairs, mold can grow, but it won't be covered by your homeowners insurance. Floods can also cause mold, but that would be covered by flood insurance, if you have it. If you submit a claim for mold damage, the cause would be evaluated and determined by the flood insurance adjuster.

You can prevent the growth of mold by keeping your home dry and addressing spills and leaks as soon as you find them. This may be more difficult for homeowners in Florida or Louisiana. We recommend using vents and fans to reduce moisture and humidity in areas and appliances prone to it.

Stay on top of repairs and maintenance in your home, especially in basements, crawl spaces and bathrooms, which are ideal areas for mold to grow. Bleaching an area after a spill or leak can help prevent a mold infestation, too.

How to file a claim after water damage

Now that you can identify when water damage is covered by your homeowners insurance, it's important that you contact your company as soon as possible if you discover water damage in your home. You should take pictures of the area and everything that was damaged. Also get photos of where the water came from, such as a burst pipe or hole in the roof.

If you have pictures from before the incident, find them so you can show the adjuster what the area looked like before being damaged. Pictures are especially useful if mold develops in the future. They can support your claim that the mold grew as a result of water damage and not neglect.

The company will ask you questions about your claim to help decide if it's covered by your policy. An adjuster will come to assess the damage. If you need to make any urgent repairs before the adjuster has a chance to see the damage, take pictures before the repairs are done. And keep the receipts for any materials you purchase.

You can also hire a contractor to evaluate the water damage and give you a repair estimate. This is useful if the adjuster's quote is too low. It allows you to negotiate with your insurance company. Once you have agreed on a settlement for the cost of repairs, the company will generally send you half of the payment to begin repairs. You'll receive the rest after completion, minus the deductible.

Keep all pictures of the water damage and documents associated with the damage and your claim in case mold grows in the future. Your insurance company may be hesitant to agree that the mold resulted from prior water damage, but having pictures and records will serve as valuable proof. If the mold is deemed to have come from water damage, some companies may make you file a second claim of water damage instead, requiring you to pay another deductible before remediation takes place.

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