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Homeowners Insurance: Is Your Home Insured Against Water Damage?

By Compuquotes Team on May 5th, 2008

Homeowners Insurance

Water damage is one of the most common reasons for claims against insurance policies. Does your homeowner insurance policy cover you against the most common types of water damage? Many homeowners only find out what their insurance policy doesn't cover when they make a claim. Here are some of the most common types of water damage, and what you can expect if you need to make a claim.

1.A pipe bursts in your home and floods the living areas. Are you covered?

It depends on the circumstances, but generally the answer is a qualified yes. Your homeowner will usually cover the damages to your home and furnishings, but not the cost of repairing the burst pipe. The repairs to the pipe are considered a home maintenance issue rather than an unforeseen circumstance. There are some exceptions, since your insurer does expect you to take reasonable care and caution with your property. You may not be covered, for instance, if you left your home unoccupied and unheated for several days in the dead of winter and a pipe bursts as a consequence.

2.A sewer overflows, flooding your finished basement with water and sewage. Will your homeowner insurance cover the cleanup costs?

Unless you have a special endorsement or rider covering damage from sewers and drains, you may be on your own. Many, if not most, homeowner policies specifically exclude damage caused by sewer backups and overflows. If your home has a finished basement or a basement workshop, a sewers and drains rider could be worth its weight in gold. Often, the cost of repairing the damage after a sewer backup goes far beyond replacing the carpet. You could be faced with massive cleanup and decontamination costs.

3.Your washing machine breaks, and the flood of water damages your living room carpet. Will your insurance pay to clean the carpet?

Generally, the answer is yes. A standard homeowner policy will cover the cost of cleaning or replacing the carpet when an unexpected appliance breakage damages your property. There may be exceptions to this, however, especially if your insurer determines that your washing machine hasn't been appropriately maintained.

4.Your roof leaks during a heavy rainstorm, soaking your daughter's bedroom walls and furnishings. Will your insurance cover the damage?

Your homeowner policy will usually cover the damage to property caused by the water, but not the cost of repairing the roof. That could include the cost of repairing and repainting or papering the walls, replacing damaged furniture and cleaning draperies, bedding and clothing. If the leak was caused by something more drastic, say a tree branch crashing through your roof, the insurance will also cover the cost of repairs to your roof.

5.Your bathtub overflows, and the water damages the floor and the ceiling below. Can you make a claim?

Yes. Even if the overflow was your fault because you forgot to turn off the faucet, your homeowner policy will usually pay to repair the damage.

6.Your swimming pool leaks and the water damages your garden and lawn. What will your insurance cover?

Usually, nothing. Damage to your lawn and grounds is usually covered on a 'named perils' basis. In other words, insurance will only pay out if the damages are the results of specifically named incidents, and a swimming pool overflow is not one of those named perils. In addition, reimbursement for damage to your grounds is usually limited to about $500, so if your manicured landscaping will cost more than that to repair in case of storm damage, look into an endorsement or rider to take up the slack.

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