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To insurance companies, "flood" means water that leaks into your home from a nearby lake, stream, river or other body of water. Damage from flooding is not covered under standard home insurance policies. However, water that comes from a leaky dishwasher, a burst pipe or a running faucet doesn't meet the insurer's definition of flood, even if the water is knee deep. Damage from these causes should be covered under your home insurance policy. (That's of course assuming you didn't leave the faucet on intentionally.)

Be careful how you report your water damage claim to your insurance company. Avoid using the word "flood" because in this case it's inaccurate, by insurance standards, to describe what happened. Telling your insurance agent about a flood in your home will only confuse matters and could lead to a denial of your claim. Explain truthfully what happened.

Water damage is one of the most common home insurance claims people make. The issue of water damage and coverage can be tricky, not only because of the confusion over what constitutes a flood but questions about homeowner responsibility in providing necessary upkeep. For instance, a home insurance policy would cover the damages if the temperature dropped below zero and caused a pipe to burst and cover your floor with water.

However the insurance company could deny that claim if you had left the house unoccupied and without heat. In that case, the insurer would argue you had failed to take the necessary steps to avoid the accident.

To learn more, read about water damage: seven home insurance scenarios