If you are making water damage claims, it is a mistake to automatically assume that your insurance covers everything. Not all water damage insurance coverage is created equal, and it isn’t unusual for insurers to make it tough for customers to make a claim. Without any form of insurance, the average water damage restoration will start around $1,400 according to a national estimate, but the price can rise to over $7,500 depending one the amount of damage.
Although most homeowner insurance policies will cover the majority of water damage claims, it all depends on the wording of your contract. For example, your insurer may try and pin the blame on you which would, of course, violate the terms of your insurance.
Types of Water Damage
According to the Insurance Services Office (ISO), water damage is one of the primary causes of a home insurance claim. In fact, it is second behind wind and hail damage claims. Your policy could cover or exclude one or more of the following types of water damage:
- Storm-related water damage
- Sewer or water backup
- Sudden or accidental discharge
What Will the Water Damage Insurance Aspect of my Policy Cover?
As you know, you could be forced into making a water damage claim because of issues caused by accidents, severe weather, appliances or plumbing, and infiltration. In general, standard policies cover sudden and accidental water damage. It will probably also include coverage for:
- The discharge or overflow of water, even if it is an accident.
- Damage caused to a steam or hot water system such as cracking, burning or tearing apart.
- Damage caused by the weight of sleet, snow, or ice which may lead to roof collapse for example.
- Frozen pipes and plumbing.
It is important to note that if you have purchased a cheap policy such as a HO-1 or HO-8 (HO-3 is considered standard), you will have limited coverage which may NOT include the terms above.
3 Water Damage Types Found in Home Insurance Policies
You have probably already discovered that making water damage claims is potentially confusing and even frustrating experience. As the source of the problem isn’t always easy to spot, phone calls with your insurer can quickly turn sour. To avoid confusion, make sure you determine the cause of the water damage. Once you contact the insurance company, they are likely to bracket your coverage into one of the following types.
1. Sewer or Water Backup
This term describes when water is pushed up into your home via pipes from a drainage system or sewer. You will easily spot it because this water damage claim involves a lot of dirty water. Get in touch with a reputable water damage restoration team right away because this water is unsanitary and can lead to health problems if it is not dealt with quickly.
Sewer backup problems are increasing and could be caused by one of the following issues:
- Tree roots that grow into pipes and cause blockages.
- Old sewer systems in dire need of repair.
- If your city’s sanitary main gets blocked, it can cause water to be forced into your home through the pipes.
- Pipeline issues related to your city, especially if your system involves a combination of storm and sewage water in one pipeline.
- Backup of the drainage systems in your home.
Please note that this water damage claim could fail as it is not added to most standard policies. We recommend checking your policy today and add this form of coverage by endorsement if it is not already there. The Insurance Information Institute says it will cost around $40 a year.
2. Overflow and Discharge Water Damage
This is probably the form of water damage that you’re most familiar with. Overflow relates to water escaping from appliances, water outlets or pipes in the home. For example, your washing machine could malfunction and cause a minor flood in the kitchen.
Discharge relates to the release of water from appliances or plumbing that floods the home. An example is if a pipe bursts and a ton of water comes out. In general, these types of water damage must be sudden and accidental, and NOT related to wear & tear or maintenance.
By the way, there is another issue known as seepage. As it is classified as ‘gradual damage,’ it is usually not covered by home insurance.
3. Flood Water Damage
In the world of insurance, the term ‘flood’ means you only have a viable water damage claim when a body of water outside your home overflows to the point where it goes into your property. Your best course of action is to check your neighbor’s home. Generally, you have a chance of being covered by water damage insurance if more than one house on your street is affected.
What Kind of Water Damage Insurance Do I Need?
Given the necessity of hiring a water damage restoration company before the problem becomes too severe, trying to figure out whether you are eligible for coverage is a headache you don’t need. Hopefully, this article has helped you get to grips with some of the terminologies you’re like to hear when chatting to an insurer.
Here are a few tips to avoid having your water damage claim rejected:
- Thoroughly read your policy before signing on the dotted line. It is essential that you are aware of, and understand, the exclusions of the contract, as well as the responsibilities of homeowners.
- Perform regular maintenance of your home twice a year to ensure there are no nasty surprises. All it takes is a couple of minor repairs to avoid a major problem.
- Maintain records of these repairs along with information about the professionals you used to complete the projects. It can help you prove that your water damage claim is based on a sudden and accidental problem.
- Buy the best water damage insurance for your needs. If your policy has a glaring gap, spend a little extra on buying additional coverage; this decision could save you thousands in the event of an accident.