Homeowners insurance and water damage coverage
Standard homeowners insurance covers several types of water damage, most of which are considered sudden and accidental. For example, if a pipe in your basement were to burst unexpectedly, your home insurance would likely cover any resulting losses. However, if that same pipe had been leaking gradually for several months, the ensuing damage likely wouldn’t be covered by your policy. As pointed out by III, water that “comes from the top down,” such as rainfall and ruptured sprinkler systems, is generally covered by standard homeowners policies. Water “coming from the bottom up,” including floods and sewage backups, isn’t covered unless the homeowner purchased a special rider or policy endorsement.
What types of water damage are covered?
As a general rule, water damage is typically covered if it results from one of the 16 common perils outlined in basic homeowners insurance, known as HO-3 policies. (A peril refers to the hazard that caused the damage.) These “named perils” are listed in your policy. Some examples of water damage typically covered under a basic HO-3 policy result from:
- Burst pipes and plumbing fixtures
- Heavy rain, wind and hail
- Roof leaks caused by falling objects
- Appliances that break down suddenly (washing machines, dishwashers, etc.)
So, if your water damage was caused by a sudden and accidental peril listed in your policy, the damages are likely to be covered. When you file a claim for water damage with your insurance company, an adjuster will inspect your home and determine if the source of the water damage was preventable. They’ll review their findings with you as well as your policy language to determine if the damage is covered.