With this recent round of spring rain (Rain, rain, go away...), it got me thinking about what we as homeowners can do to protect our homes from the seemingly random mood swings of Mother Nature. So I spoke with my friend and colleague Matt Naimoli of G&N Insurance and want to share this information he sent me about coverage for water damage and flood insurance. Take it away, Matt!
Thanks, Suzanne! Questions around water damage definitely cause a lot of confusion among homeowners. One of the reasons it can be so confusing is there are different types of water damage. A standard homeowner's policy covers sudden or accidental water damage from the inside, such as a broken pipe, but may not cover water finding its way in from the outside, such as a flood. Where the water originated from can ultimately determine whether a loss may be covered or not. It's important to be familiar with the nuances of the specific policy you've purchased.
As a guideline, though, most standard policies cover at least limited amounts of water damage to the interior of your home. Water damage due to problems with plumbing or appliances is often covered in a standard policy. Insurers will expect proof that the water damage was due to a faulty system or poorly-executed repair and not a failure to properly maintain plumbing and appliances.
Water that seeps into your home due to snowmelt or driving rain may also be covered by a homeowner's policy. If your roof is damaged by a storm and develops a leak, any subsequent damage is also likely covered. However, it's important to show that as a homeowner, you maintained your home properly. Ignoring a leak, avoiding proper roof maintenance, or failing to clean out your gutters can mean that a water problem will not be covered under your policy. General wear and tear, such as an old unrepaired roof that leaks, may not be covered. Likewise, most policies cover frozen pipes that burst and cause water damage – but only if you haven't left the house unheated or the home is not vacant.
Water that backs up through sump pumps, drains, and clogged sewer lines are not usually covered in a standard policy. However, you can purchase additional coverage to provide for this type of water-related problem. There is typically a limit on how much coverage may be purchased. It is also important to note that your policy property deductible would be applicable towards a water loss.
What isn't ever covered in a standard policy? Flood insurance. Insurance against flooding from an exterior source must be purchased as a separate policy, and depending where your home is located, carrying flood insurance is essential. To find out whether you live in an area considered to be at risk for flooding, you can contact the National Flood Insurance Program for more information. It's important to note you do not need to live near a river, stream, or lake to sustain flood damage. A flood can be caused from periods of heavy rain, where water accumulates in your yard or driveway and runs into your house.
Spending a little extra on additional coverage or even an additional policy such as flood insurance could be well worth the money spent in the long run. Water damage can have far-reaching implications as it can cause staining to walls and ceilings, ruin flooring, create an environment in which mold can flourish, and even lead to structural damage to your home. Mold damage is also typically excluded from your homeowner policy. You can avoid having to remediate these problems yourself by ensuring that you have the proper coverage to adequately repair any water damage.
It is also most important to protect your home by keeping it properly maintained. Failure to do so may result in a lack of coverage for water damage. A little upkeep can go a long way toward preventing unnecessary water damage.
Got questions? Contact your insurance professional or one of our experts at G&N Insurance to review your coverage. And hope you're keeping dry!