WATER DAMAGE and FLOOD COVERAGE – What, Your Insurance Agent Didn’t Explain This to You?

hot water tank leak

Was this a sudden and accidential event…

Buckled Floor

That led to all this damage to an expensive hardwood floor?

Sudden Water Damage: What your homeowner’s policy Does and Does Not Cover

Well, as most adults quickly learn, what seems simple to a reasonable person is never simple when described in an insurance policy. So let’s dive into your  homeowner’s water coverage, shall we?

Shouldn’t sudden water damage describe any sudden water damage to your home? Actually, sudden water damage has a very narrow definition in your homeowner’s insurance policy. Unfortunately, each year many folks learn the hard way that a water damage issue that they assumed would be covered under their homeowners insurance policy gets denied by their insurance company adjuster.

Sudden water damage in a homeowner’s insurance policy may be defined in similar verbiage as an accidental and sudden discharge of water or steam discharges or overflow from your plumbing, air-conditioning, heating or automatic fire-sprinkler systems, or from appliances.

So, for example you are heading out on vacation and your son uses the bathroom one last time before jumping in the car. Unfortunately, on his last flush of the toilet the handle stuck and the toilet overflowed continuously while you were away for two weeks. It was that upstairs toilet and when you got back you found your entire house on three levels dripping like the Monterrey Bay Aquarium. This example would be accidental and sudden discharge of water from plumbing and should be covered under your homeowners insurance.

What Sudden Water Damage Does Not Cover in Homeowners Insurance: Unfortunately, another form of sudden water damage is never covered by homeowners insurance. This would be a flood where water crosses property other than yours and touches the ground outside your house first before entering the house. That could be overflowing streams, ponds, lakes, or burst water mains, even mudslides.

Many take the term “sudden water damage” and apply it to what they would reasonably think that natural flooding means. And, a flash flood from a nearby stream to a reasonable person would most certainly be defined as sudden water damage. But, a flood comes along- like an ‘Act of God’- and one must have a separate FLOOD INSURANCE policy to get any insurance coverage.

Another example of water damage that some folks associate with sudden water damage would be a Slow ly Drip   ping   pipe or supply line. Many discover damage from a leaking pipe in their home and to them, this seems like water damage but it is a maintenance issue to the adjuster. Water damage including mold, that has been caused by slowly leaking, condensing or seeping water over a long period of time can be considered neglect – a maintenance issue. Claim denied.

Sewer backup? No coverage in standard homeowner’s policies or Flood policies for sewage backing up into a house – unless a rider is purchased adding some coverage on the homeowner’s policy for this peril. This is additional coverage you could be very glad to have! Sewer backup losses are very expensive to repair and not a do-it-yourself project!!

So, although the effects of water in the structure, such as hidden mold, are just discovered by the homeowner, it is usually not considered sudden water damage to the insurance company. Slow, continuous or intermittent dripping old pipes or roof leaks are not floods to most claims adjusters.  Similarly, underground water seepage is never covered, as seepage is specifically defined and excluded for similar reasons. Not accidental and not sudden. Bottom line: Insurance cannot be used as a remedy for failure to maintain or general wearing out of a house. Homeowner’s insurance is not intended to be a home maintenance fund or home warranty program.

If you still have questions about water damage perils and your homeowner’s insurance coverages please talk with your insurance agent about real life examples. Water damage coverage definitions are confusing and a good insurance agent is equipped to answer insured’s questions on this subject. Also, be sure you find out what deductible (self insurance) you have for the water related scenarios that would be covered by your policy.

Regardless of how your adjuster defines your water damage event, Floodco LLC is standing by for FAST and EXPERT care to dry and restore your home.  406 892-1717   Your call will be answered day or night 365 days a year!