We all pay towards our homeowner’s insurance policies every month, but are you aware of precisely what they cover? Especially when it comes to water damage, it is important to know what your insurance does and does not cover.
Water damage is a common problem in households, and it’s good to be aware of what will and what won’t be covered, so you know whether you will be paying costly damage bills if you have an incident at home.
In a nutshell, most homeowners insurance cover water damage that is sudden and accidental, while they won’t cover damage due to a lack of maintenance or even neglect. Although this sounds simple, it’s a rather tricky area to navigate.
In this post, we look at the different types of water damage, what is and what is not covered by insurance policies, and the process of filing a claim with your insurance company.
Types of Water Damage
Category 1: This water damage involves ‘clean water’ damage from broken pipes, an overflowing sink, or rainwater. This means health risks are low, granted the situation is dealt with in less than 48 hours. If it is not treated within this time, the water-damaged materials can get exposed to various contaminants, moving the water damage from a category 1 situation to a category 2.
Category 2: This water damage category comprises greywater from equipment discharges, or chemical wastes like detergent, laundry, and soap. This water damage category can pose mild to severe contamination risks for those involved because greywater can foster microbial growth.
Of course, with all water damage, the severity of the situation will intensify with time. Ensure that you, and your family, are wary in this instance, as both direct and indirect exposure to greywater damage can be harmful to your personal health.
Category 3: The most dangerous category, category 3 water damage, involves black water from sewers or water containing grease, oil, urine, etc. The type of water damage quickly acquires bacteria, viruses, and other toxic allergens, making it contagious.
Research says that the vulnerability of getting an infection or illness after direct, or indirect, exposure to black water is more than 90%. It is necessary to be extremely careful when dealing with black water and get the professionals involved.
What Types of Water Damage are Covered?
When it comes to covering water damage, you’ll find most standard home insurance policies cover it when the damage is sudden and internal. The stipulation here, though, is that the water must not have touched the outside ground.
What does this mean? It means the water damage must come from sudden and accidental tearing, cracking, burning, or bulging of steam, heating, AC, or fire protection systems.
Other instances of water damage covered by homeowners insurance include heavy rain, snowstorm, water from extinguishing a fire, and vandalism. With plumbing problems, insurance will cover burst pipes, frozen plumbing, faulty plumbing, and accidental overflow.
If your roof is leaking, the damage to the inside of the house will be covered, not for the roof itself. You’ll be happy to know that one of the most common household water damage issues, the accidental overflow of an appliance or fixture – like a toilet, washing machine, or bathtub – is covered. And, lastly, mold is covered if it began due to the above types of water damage.
What Types Of Water Damage are Not Covered?
Now that we know what is covered by homeowners insurance, let’s look at what is not. Coverage includes unexpected occurrences or accidents, so that means non-coverage would consist of neglect or lack of maintenance. In other words, avoidable problems.
So although your insurance will cover the water damage from a washing machine overflowing, they won’t cover this damage if this was due to an unresolved maintenance issue. In other words, if the damage was caused by a continuous leaking faucet or other regular plumbing issues that you did not repair.
Also, insurance won’t cover the cause of the water damage, just the damage itself. So, it won’t cover the cost of fixing your washing machine, just the damage to your floor.
And, as we mentioned, coverage won’t include water from the outside. So, if water backs into your home through an outside drain, or your community experiences a flood – be it from a storm or over-saturated ground – you won’t be covered.
However, you can purchase additional water backup coverage or specific flood insurance. This, of course, is an excellent idea if you live in a high-risk area prone to flooding. There are many other additional coverages you may be able to add to your policy, so be sure to ask your insurance agent.
The Process of Claiming from Insurance
- Call your Insurer: Once you come across water damage, give your insurer a call to check whether you are covered for the damage and to file the claim. Don’t start on your repairs until you know for sure what is included in your coverage.
- Document the Damage: The more proof you have of the water damage and what caused it, the more likely you won’t have any problems with your insurance company.
- Keep the Damaged Items: It’s also a good idea to keep any water-damaged things if the insurance adjusters want to examine them. This often helps them decide on the cost of replacements or repairs.
- Find a Vendor for Repair: Most insurers will give you a list of pre-approved vendors to help make the repairs to your damage, but you can always do your own research and find a more reliable vendor yourself.
- Negotiations: Remember you can negotiate with your insurance provider if you don’t think the amount they offer is fair.
How We Can Help
Hiring a professional water removal and restoration company to tackle water removal makes sense. Blackmon Mooring & BMS CAT offer water damage restoration services that have helped thousands of residential and commercial customers recover from water damage – both big and small.
Find out more about how we work with residential insurance agents, and their customers, at www.bmscat.com.