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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?

Amy Danise

Water damage (along with damage from freezing) is the third most costly type of home insurance claim and makes up almost 20% of home insurance property damage claims, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

The average insurance claim for water or freezing damage is $10,234, according to the latest data from the Insurance Information Institute.

Homeowners insurance covers certain types of water damage.

Water damage usually covered by home insurance

  • Burst pipes that are behind a wall or under a sink, or a pipe such as the one to your clothes washer. This includes pipes that freeze and burst, but not if you intentionally turned the heat off in the house.
  • An accidental water leak from an appliance, like a hot water heater or dishwasher. But the repair of the broken appliance itself is usually not covered.
  • Water from storms such as heavy rain and hail.
  • Water damage that comes through the roof after a storm or tree damages the roof. But things change if there's a question about lack of maintenance. A slow roof leak that wasn't fixed is likely not covered, for example.
  • Water damage after a fire from water that was used to extinguish the flames.

Water damage usually not covered by home insurance

  • Floods and tsunamis. A flood is officially defined as "a general and temporary condition where two or more acres of normally dry land or two or more properties are inundated by water or mudflow," according to FEMA. Tsunamis start as underwater waves, often caused by earthquakes, that grow in height as they reach the shore. You can buy a separate flood insurance policy.
  • Water damage due to lack of maintenance, like an old roof.
  • Water that backs up through a sewer, storm drain or other pipes from the outside. But you can buy “Limited Water Back-up And Sump Discharge or Overflow Coverage.”
  • Water that seeps in through a foundation.

For example, here’s wording from a State Farm homeowners policy describing the types of water damage that State Farm won’t pay for:

  1. flood;

(2) surface water. This does not include water solely caused by the release of water from a swimming pool, spigot, sprinkler system, hose, or hydrant;

(3) waves (including tidal wave, tsunami, and seiche);

(4) tides or tidal water;

(5) overflow of any body of water (including any release, escape, or rising of any body of water, or any water held, contained, controlled, or diverted by a dam, levee, dike, or any type of water containment, diversion, or flood control device);

(6) spray or surge from any of the items (1) through (5) described above, all whether driven by wind or not;

(7) water or sewage from outside the residence premises plumbing system that enters through sewers or drains, or water or sewage that enters into and overflows from within a sump pump, sump pump well, or any other system designed to remove sub- surface water that is drained from the foundation area;

(8) water or sewage below the surface of the ground, including water or sewage that exerts pressure on, or seeps or leaks through a building structure, sidewalk, driveway, swimming pool, or other structure;

(9) seepage or leakage of water, steam, or sewage that occurs or develops over a period of time:

(a) and is:

(i) continuous;

(ii) repeating;

(iii) gradual;

(iv) intermittent;

(v) slow; or

(vi) trickling; and

(b) from a:

(i) heating, air conditioning, or automatic fire protective sprinkler system;

(ii) household appliance; or

(iii) plumbing system, including from, within or around any shower stall, shower bath, tub installation, or other plumbing fixture, including their walls, ceilings, or floors.

Making a water damage insurance claim

If you have water damage that's covered by home insurance, the insurance check will be reduced by the amount of your deductible. The deductible amount is listed on your policy’s declarations page at the front.

Making a water damage claim can potentially mean a rate increase at policy renewal time. Insurers commonly raise rates when claims indicate that a customer has a higher level of risk.