Does House Insurance Cover Water Damage?


WRITTEN BY: Mark Romero

UPDATED: NOVEMBER 02, 2022 | 3 MIN READ

Water damage doesn’t always involve a burst pipe or leak; many types of water damage may cause serious structural issues, like mold growth, rusting of steel, and more. So, does house insurance cover water damage or not? Let’s find out.

Table Of Contents

When Does House Insurance Cover Water Damage?

Water damage is one of the most common (and expensive) types of homeowners insurance claims. According to the Insurance Information Institute, about one in 60 homeowners file water damage or freezing claim every year. And, the average water damage claim cost is $11,098.

Generally, “sudden and accidental” water damage is covered, like a burst pipe. Gradual damage, like a leaking kitchen sink, won’t be covered, along with flooding caused by a hurricane.

When does homeowner’s insurance cover water damage?

A variety of issues cause water damage. But, your home insurance only covers a handful of those.

These include: 

  • Sudden/accidental water discharge
  • Storm-related water damage
  • Accidental sewer backup or overflow (you may need an endorsement) 

Some policies will also cover resulting damages. These occur because of initial water damage. For example, a burst pipe causes water damage to a nearby wall. Your policy might cover the wall repair costs too.  

Remember, not every insurance policy covers resulting damages. So, check what your policy includes.

Sometimes, policies cover the resulting damage but not the source of the leak. For example, if an old pipe bursts and ruins your wall, your policy pays to repair the wall. But it doesn’t cover the cost of replacing the pipe.

This is also the case for personal property. Dwelling coverage pays for water damage to the structure of your home. Personal property coverage helps pay for damage to your belongings. 

When doesn’t homeowner’s insurance cover water damage?

Gradual damage is the most common type of water damage that isn’t covered by homeowners’ insurance. This is caused by normal wear and tear. With time, your home’s plumbing system starts to deteriorate, which makes the pipes more prone to leak. 

Homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover many gradual damage scenarios. These include:

  • Broken pipes (if the pipe breaks due to gradual damage) 
  • Lack of maintenance (like a leaky faucet that was never repaired)
  • Mold and rotting wood (due to water leaks) 
  • Foundation seepage (if a foundation crack lets in water)
  • Resulting damages from roof damage (if a tree falls on your roof and lets in water, you’ll be covered for the roof and water damage but not mold)

Check the specific wording in your policy statement to see exactly what is or is not covered by your insurance.

Does Home Insurance Cover Mold From Water Damage?

Your policy covers mold damage that’s caused by a “covered peril.” 

For example, the damage should be covered if a pipe suddenly bursts and causes a mold outbreak. Mold resulting from humidity is typically not covered, along with mold damage caused by an excluded peril. 

Unfortunately, cleaning up mold can be very expensive. To keep premiums low, many home insurers limit mold damage repair that usually ranges between $1,000 and $10,000.

Does Home Insurance Cover Water Damage From Floods?

No, standard home insurance policies do not cover flood damage. If you file a claim for a burst pipe (or anything that resulted in flooding), refer to the problem as “water damage.” There are two very different meanings in the insurance world; you don’t want to exclude yourself from coverage accidentally.

If you’re seeking coverage from flooding events, consider adding flood insurance as a separate policy. This covers flooding events that occur from natural disasters. You can purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and private insurers.

Many mortgage companies already require flood insurance if your home is in a high-risk flood zone. Do not wait until hurricane season to add this coverage; many come with a 30-day waiting period before coverage kicks in. 

When Should You File a Home Insurance Claim For a Water Leak?

Many homeowners insurance plans will only cover sudden or accidental water leaks, such as a burst pipe. This means most policies don’t cover the costs of repairs for gradual water damage, like a slow leaking faucet.

When to file a claim for a burst pipe

Once water damage occurs, you typically have a three-day window until mold begins to grow. It’s important to file a claim as soon as you notice the leak, but if you have trouble understanding your policy, reach out to a public adjuster. They’ll usually review your policy for free, so you can know what to expect before opening and filing a claim.

How To File a Home Insurance Claim For Water Damage

You’ve discovered a small pond in your home — now what? It’s time to file a claim as soon as possible. Follow the below steps to file a claim for water damage successfully: 

  1. Determine the water source and take reasonable measures to stop the flow.
  2. Check your policy to determine coverage. You may also want to consider contacting a public adjuster to help review your policy with you.
  3. Call your agent and report a claim.

What happens after you’ve filed a water damage claim

After you’ve filed your claim, take plenty of photos of the damaged area and any damaged possessions (for your personal property coverage).

Then, hire a professional water damage clean-up company and determine if the damage is enough for you to leave your home temporarily. You’ll also meet with your adjuster and any contractors. You may have to negotiate the settlement for repairs. 

FAQs

What does home insurance cover for water damage?

Many policies cover water damage if the cause is sudden and accidental. This may also include damages that occur because of initial water damage, like replacing drenched drywall from a ruptured water heater. 

How can you prove water damage?

First, determine the source of the water and take reasonable measures to stop the flow. Immediately call your insurance agent and report the claim. Take photos of the damaged area and any damaged possessions (for your personal property claim). You will also want to keep records of meetings with adjusters and contractors. 

What is sudden and accidental water damage?

“Sudden and accidental” water damage refers to damage caused by burst pipes, ruptured water heaters, and any sudden (not gradual) occurrence. Remember that this doesn’t apply to hurricane flooding.

Do building or contents insurance cover water damage?

Contents insurance pays for damage to, or loss of, your personal possessions while they are located within your home. This means, your policy covers water damage to your personal property that’s sudden and accidental.

Does my home insurance policy cover a slow water leak?

Most likely not. Many insurance policies exclude gradual damage, such as a slow leak and damage due to regional flooding. 

Find Home Insurance With Water Damage Coverage

Water damage is a headache, but filing a claim doesn’t have to be. As long as you take a close look at your coverage, document the damage as clearly as possible, and hire professionals to clean and access the damage, you should be able to file a claim without issue. 

Of course, having good home insurance helps create a smooth claims process. So grab your free home insurance quotes today.