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Water Damage Insurance Coverage

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Because water damage is one of the most frequent reasons people file insurance claims, water damage insurance is a standard section of most homeowners policies. Generally, homeowners insurance will cover any type of "sudden and accidental" water damage, including burst water pipes and leaky appliances. It can be difficult to tell, however, just what is and what is not covered by a homeowners insurance policy.

Burst pipes

As mentioned, burst pipes are a common reason for filing a water-damage-based insurance claim. Temperature drops freeze the water in the pipes, swelling and bursting them at the joints and covering the floor of the house in a noticeable amount of water. Fortunately, since this falls under the "sudden and accidental" definition of water damage, a homeowners insurance policy will cover any damage from a situation like this; however, if the house has been left unoccupied and without heat, it is more likely that the insurance company will deny the claim, due to the homeowner's failure to perform the upkeep necessary to prevent the damage in the first place.

Backyard pool leaks

What if a swimming pool leaks and damages the lawn or floods the basement? Homeowners insurance will cover any water damage to the basement and personal property inside, but policies rarely cover the land that a house is on, since land cannot be "damaged" according to insurance companies. On the other hand, if the swimming pool leak is caused by an outside source (say, a tree falling and damaging the pool), it is possible that the policy will cover damage associated with that.

Leaky appliances

Perhaps a washing machine overflows or leaks, flooding a basement or laundry room. Usually, the insurance company will consider this occurrence sudden and accidental - unless it is clear that proper maintenance on the washing machine was not performed, in which case repair costs will fall to the homeowner. If the insurance carrier decides to cover the costs, they will help with repairs to the structure of the house, but replacement of any damaged parts on the washing machine itself would have to be taken care of out of the owner's pocket.

Sewer backup

If the sewer backs up and floods the house, a typical homeowners water damage insurance policy will not cover the damage - in fact, many specifically exclude sewer backup from the types of damage the policy protects against. There are, however, certain riders (items that can be added on to an insurance policy for an extra cost) that can be purchased that will protect against damage from broken sewers or drains.

Flood damage

Typical homeowners policies do not provide water damage insurance for floods. The insurance-company definition of flooding is different from the general definition of flooding (i.e., a floor covered in water due to a burst pipe is not flood damage, according to insurance companies). To be flood damage, the water must be overflow from a nearby lake, river, or other small body of water. Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program.

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