Water damages are one of the biggest reasons no homeowner should skimp on good coverage. Whether it’s from a busted pipe, broken septic system or a flood, water damage is one of the most crucial forms of coverage on a home insurance policy.
Although water damages are one of the most common claims, knowing what classifies as eligible damage can be tricky. In fact, there are many instances where a homeowner may want to claim water damages but cannot receive compensation.
Read on to learn more about how home insurance providers define water damages, what types of water damages you can claim and how to get covered in the event your property is affected.
What Are the Types of Water Damages?
In general, water damage can be broken down into five broad categories. They are:
- Storm damages
- Burst pipes or spontaneous plumbing problems
- Sewer back-up
Any major, sudden and unexpected type of water damages are generally covered by insurance, but you will not be able to file a claim for any damages sustained over a long period of time.
“Gradual damages,” as they’re called, refer to water damages inflicted by a leaky pipe, holes in the roof or other structural problems. This means that keeping your home in the best condition possible is important for far more than accident prevention; without proper maintenance, you run the risk of sustaining thousands of dollars in damages that your insurance provider won’t cover.
Water damage protection is designed to help you repair any property damage that happens as a result of a spontaneous event; storm damages may or may not be fully covered depending on whether you have water-related damages on your policy.
What If My Roof Collapses?
Depending on the ultimate cause of the collapse, water damages sustained from a collapsed roof may or may not be considered “gradual damages.” If an insurance company determines that the roof caved in due to lack of maintenance, then the damages would not be considered accidental and, as a result, not be covered.
If, on the other hand, a storm tears a hole in your roof, then you would most likely be covered. This example is just one way to differentiate between what insurance providers call spontaneous and gradual damages.
Examples of Gradual Damages
In general, insurance is meant to cover someone in the event of an accident. Gradual damages may not be caused intentionally, but they are ultimately the result of a failure on the homeowner’s end to properly maintain their property.
Gradual water damages may be:
- Damage resulting from a leaky pipe
- Flooding or pools of water that entered the home through cracks or holes in the exterior or foundation
- Leaks and damage from an old roof that needed patched or replaced
- Leaks, flooding, mold or other damages from plumbing that was damaged by misue or not maintained
Does a Home Insurance Policy Ever Cover Gradual Damages?
Now, while 99 percent of gradual water damages are not covered by insurance, there are a few instances you can claim them. Some states, for example, offer mold coverage that can pay for the removal of mold growth in a home regardless of its cause. This is not mandatory, and it is not automatically included as basic home insurance. However, you can speak with your insurance provider to determine if there are any mold coverage add-ons for your policy.
Second, in the event that a repair covered by your insurance leads to gradual damages, you may qualify for additional compensation. You may also receive coverage if damages are caused by a domestic appliance breaking. Even if the washing machine or dishwasher broke down from old age or just general wear-and-tear, you could still possibly claim the resulting damages.
How to Make Sure a Water Damages Claim Is Accepted
The best way to handle any insurance claim is to gather as much evidence as possible. Photographic evidence and records from professional contractors or technicians can support a claim, but there should also be extensive records of routine maintenance on plumbing, HVAC and roofing to demonstrate a history of good homeownership.
Regular tune-ups and repairs should be done on an annual basis, especially during seasons that pose a higher risk due to bad weather. Summer storms and heavy snowfall can cause serious weather-related water damages that could be avoided with proper preventative care.
You should also speak with your provider and make sure that you fully understand the terms, conditions and limits of your policy. Ask about add-ons and determine if there are any options that help you bolster your coverage. When in doubt, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to ask for details when an explanation is unclear.
Although certain damages are bound to happen while owning a home, practicing routine care and being fully aware of your insurance coverage limits will help you prevent facing any unexpected bills and damages.