Whether it’s behind the washer, above the ceiling, or under the sink, a little drip can lead to big trouble. 

Water damage happens quickly and can be expensive to fix — the average cost of a water-damage claim is about $11,000. Not only that, but homeowners insurance won’t pay out for water leaks due to poor maintenance. However, water leaks from faulty plumbing or ruptured pipes are usually covered. To get money for any damage caused to your home by a water leak, make sure to regularly upkeep your home. 

Homeowners insurance also doesn’t cover damage from weather-related floods — you need a separate flood insurance policy for that.

Key Takeaways

  • Home insurance does not cover damagefrom normal wear and tear, but it does cover leaks from sudden events, like a ruptured appliance hose.
  • A standard home policy also does not cover weather-related flooding.
  • Each year, about one in 50 homes have water damage, leading to mold.
  • Prevent water damage by periodically checking behind appliances and under sinks to ensure everything is dry.

What types of leaks are covered by homeowners insurance?

According to the Insurance Information Institute, about one in 50 homeowners file a claim for water damage or damage from freezing every year, which accounts for the second-largest amount of home insurance claims. Wind and hail claims top the list for claims at No. 1. 

However, not all water damage is covered by homeowners insurance. Types that are covered include:

  • Burst pipes
  • Frozen pipes
  • Faulty plumbing
  • Faulty appliances, like washing machines and dishwashers
  • Mold that is covered in your policy and was hidden as it grew

Remember that homeowners insurance will not pay to replace the faulty appliance that caused the leaks. For example, while home insurance may cover the water damage to the ceiling, floor, walls or furniture, it won’t pay for replacing the worn-out pipe or the leaky roof.

Additionally, before the insurance company pays out, they will want to see that you’ve regularly maintained your house and that none of the damage is caused due to neglect. Or, that as soon as the damage happened, you took steps to fix it.

“What’s really important to know for leaks is when did the insured notice it and take action,” says Christine G. Barlow, a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter and managing editor of National Underwriter and FC&S Online, which interprets insurance policies for the industry.

What types of leaks are not covered by homeowners insurance?

Unfortunately, not all water leaks are covered by homeowners insurance. If the cause of the water leak is gradual damage, or damage that happened over time and because of deterioration, you likely won’t get a payout. Most of the time, you won’t get a payout for the water leak happened for one of these reasons:

  • Leaks due to neglect or low maintenance
  • Rainwater
  • Flooding
  • Clogged pipes
  • Sewer line backups
  • Mold due to neglect

There are, however, some rare policies that cover gradual damage. Also, if you can prove that gradual damage (such as water mold damage) wasn’t caused by neglect, you may be able to get money for the damage from your homeowners insurance company.

How to file a successful water leak insurance claim

You will be more likely to receive a claim payout if you follow these steps when filing a water leak insurance claim: 

  1. Regularly maintain your home throughout the year to demonstrate that any damage is not due to neglect and keep all of your receipts
  2. Document everything, from the initial leak to any additional damage you find
  3. Try to repair and control the leak
  4. Contact a contractor to evaluate the leak and determine the cost of the repairs

You’ll want to carefully check your policy details before conducting repairs to determine what is covered. 

How to prevent a water disaster

Will Southcombe, director of standards and performance at PuroClean, a property-damage restoration service, suggests making sure all holes are properly caulked and sealed and keeping eaves and downspouts clean. He recommends periodically checking behind appliances and under sinks to make sure everything is dry. That means actually moving out the stuff that’s been sitting under the kitchen sink for the last several years.

Note: Be careful when pulling out the refrigerator to check for a leak in the icemaker water line and avoid running over the water line or crimping a copper line.

Southcombe also suggests replacing rubber supply hoses to appliances with braided hoses, which are made of rubber surrounded by wire mesh. Braided hoses can still spring a leak, but they won’t burst.

“So you have a nuisance on your hands instead of a catastrophe,” he says.

Generally, you should replace water supply hoses on appliances every five to seven years.

If you’re in the market for new homeowners insurance, Insure.com annually ranks the Best Home Insurance Companies based on surveyed policyholder feedback. Check on the reviews and receive multiple rate quotes to find the company that best fits your needs and budget.

Frequently asked questions

Does home insurance cover ceiling damage due to leaks?

Sometimes. Whether or not homeowners insurance covers ceiling damage from leaks depends on what caused the damage in the first place. The ceiling damage will only be covered if the cause is included in your homeowners insurance policy. For example, if it was caused by rainwater, which isn’t covered by homeowners insurance, then you will not receive a payout.

Does home insurance cover plumbing leaks?

Homeowners insurance only covers plumbing leaks if the leak happened suddenly or was an accident. Any plumbing leaks caused due to neglect will not be covered by homeowners insurance. 

Does homeowners insurance cover window leaks?

Most homeowners insurance will pay for the damage caused by the window leaks, but will not pay to replace the windows themselves. A leaking window is not covered because homeowners insurance companies view it as a defect that happened gradually and should have been maintained or repaired.

Does homeowners insurance cover hidden water damage?

No. Most homeowners insurance policies do not pay for repairs needed due to water damage you cannot see. But, if you can prove the damage was not due to neglect, your homeowners insurance policy may cover it.

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