What Types of Water Damage are Covered by Insurance?
Water damage is one of the most common and expensive types of insurance claims. That’s why it is important to know what insurance will cover should your home or office building suffer water damage. In this article, we will answer the question: is water damage covered by insurance?
Types of Water Damage
The source of the water is a health and safety consideration. For water damage restoration, water is placed in three general classifications, or categories of water damage. Here are the categories or types of water damage (category 1 2 3 water damage):
- Category 1 (“Clean” Water): 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 (“Gray” Water): 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 (“Black” Water): 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.
Category 1 Water Damage
Category 1 water damage is the least severe category of water damage and is considered “clean” water. This type of water damage involves water that originates from a clean source, such as a broken water supply line, sink, or bathtub. Category 1 water damage does not pose a significant health risk to humans, as it does not contain harmful contaminants or pathogens.
Examples of Category 1 water damage include:
- A broken water supply line
- A leaking or overflowing sink or bathtub
- Malfunctioning appliances, such as dishwashers or washing machines.
- Rainwater that enters through a leak in the roof
- Melting ice, snow, or rainwater
When dealing with Category 1 water damage, it’s important to act quickly to prevent mold growth and further damage to your property. Water damage restoration professionals will typically use specialized equipment, such as dehumidifiers and air movers, to dry the affected area and prevent mold growth.
It’s important to note that if Category 1 water damage is not properly addressed or if it is left untreated for an extended period of time, it can progress to Category 2 or Category 3 water damage. This can occur if the water becomes contaminated with bacteria, fungi, or other harmful substances, or if it remains stagnant and begins to breed mold or bacteria.
Category 2 Water Damage
Category 2 water damage is also known as “gray” water damage. This type of water damage involves water that is contaminated and may cause illness or discomfort if ingested or exposed to the skin. Category 2 water damage can come from sources such as washing machines, dishwashers, toilet bowls (with some urine but no feces), and sump pump failures.
Examples of Category 2 water damage include:
- A washing machine overflow that contains detergent or fabric softener
- A dishwasher leak that contains food particles or grease
- Toilet bowl overflows with some urine present
- Water damage caused by water that has been standing for an extended period of time, such as in a flooded basement.
When dealing with Category 2 water damage, it is important to wear protective gear such as gloves, goggles, and respirators, as the water may contain harmful contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, and chemicals. Water damage restoration professionals will typically use specialized equipment to remove the contaminated water and to dry and dehumidify the affected area.
It’s important to note that if Category 2 water damage is not properly addressed or if it is left untreated for an extended period of time, it can progress to Category 3 water damage. This can occur if the water becomes heavily contaminated with bacteria, fungi, or other harmful substances, or if it remains stagnant and begins to breed mold or bacteria.
Category 3 Water Damage
Category 3 water damage is the most severe category of water damage and is also known as “black” water damage. This type of water damage involves water that is highly contaminated and can cause serious illness or even death if ingested or exposed to the skin. Category 3 water damage can come from sources such as sewage backups, flooding from rivers or streams, and standing water that has been contaminated with chemicals or hazardous materials.
Examples of Category 3 water damage include:
- Sewage backups
- Flooding from a nearby river or stream
- Standing water that has been contaminated with chemicals or hazardous materials
- Water damage caused by a toilet bowl containing feces, regardless of the presence of urine
When dealing with Category 3 water damage, it is critical to wear appropriate protective gear, such as gloves, goggles, and respirators, as the water can contain harmful bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. Water damage restoration professionals will typically use specialized equipment to safely remove the contaminated water and to thoroughly clean and sanitize the affected area.
It’s important to note that Category 3 water damage requires immediate action and should never be attempted to be cleaned up by individuals who are not trained and equipped to handle hazardous materials. It can cause serious health risks and should always be left to the professionals.
What Types of Water Damage Are Covered?
Typically, water damage that is deemed “sudden and accidental” is covered but not gradual damage, like a leaking kitchen sink. Flooding is not covered, so damage from a storm surge during a hurricane would not be covered. So, how much does insurance pay for water damage?
Generally, water damage covered by insurance include:
- Burst pipes – this might include a frozen pipe that bursts, but not if you neglected to keep the property heated correctly.
- Accidental leaks – such as leaking appliances or plumbing, like a broken washing machine or dishwasher.
- Water damage after a fire – from water used to extinguish the flames, like water from a sprinkler system or the fire department’s hose.
- Water damage from storms – such as heavy rain or hail.
- Water damage from a roof leak – such as damage from a storm or a tree that falls on your roof. If a tree falls on your roof and causes damage, you will need to fix the damage in a reasonable amount of time. Failure to do so could result in further water damage that won’t be covered.
What Types of Water Damage Are Not Covered?
Here are some common issues that are typically not covered by a standard insurance policy:
- Flood damage – standard insurance policies do not cover any type of flood damage. That is why if your property is in an area prone to flooding, it is recommended to purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program.
- Neglect and lack of maintenance – insurance does not cover damage as a result of poor maintenance. For example, if damage results after you neglect to fix a leaky toilet, insurance likely will not pay for repairs.
- Sewer backups – if water backs into your property through an outside sewer or drain, this will not typically be covered by insurance.
- Water damage from seepage or leaks through a foundation.
- Water damage from earthquakes. Similar to flood damage, if you want coverage for earthquake damage, you will need to purchase a separate earthquake insurance policy.
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 Restore Your Home
After contacting your insurance company to report the water damage, hiring a professional water removal and restoration company to tackle water removal makes sense. BMS CAT offers water damage restoration services that have helped thousands of commercial and residential customers recover from water damage – both big and small. Contact us today if your property has experienced water damage.