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Water damage, such as a burst pipe that destroys a wall or a broken water heater that floods a basement, is one of the most common reasons people file home insurance claims. About one in 50 homes, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III), has a claim caused by water damage or freezing each year – with the average claim about $11,000, according to the most recent information from the III.

Granted, homeowners insurance usually covers water damage. However, there are caveats that depend on the cause of the damage. Water damage that happened accidentally is covered, but water damage that happened over time or due to neglect isn’t.

Learn more about when water damage is covered by homeowners insurance and what you can do to make sure your house and your finances are protected.

What type of water damage is covered by homeowners insurance?

Unforeseen water damage or water damage that happened suddenly is usually covered. This includes damage caused by:

  • Accidental leaks: Accidental water damage caused by plumbing or appliances such as a dishwasher are covered.
  • Burst pipes: Water damage caused by a broken pipe will only be covered if it isn’t due to negligence. 
  • Ice: Built-up ice that wasn’t caused by negligence is covered by homeowners insurance.
  • Leaking roof: If water damage from a storm causes a leaking roof, it will be covered by homeowners insurance as long as you address the damage in a reasonable amount of time. 
  • Storms: Damage caused by rain or hail is covered by homeowners insurance.
  • Water from putting out a fire: Damage caused by a sprinkler system or hose is covered. 

What type of water damage is not covered by homeowners insurance?

Not all water damage is created equally, and there are instances when it will not be covered by homeowners insurance. Examples include:

  • Water damage from an earthquake, landslide, or mudslide: You’ll have to buy a separate policy for damage caused by these events to be covered, such as earthquake insurance.
  • Flood damage: Floods are not covered by homeowners insurance and you should buy flood insurance if you live in a flood-prone area.
  • Intentional damage: Intentional acts are not covered. For example, if you purposely leave your heat off during the winter and it causes your pipes to burst, that will not be reimbursed. 
  • Damage from negligence: If you don’t regularly upkeep your home or don’t make repairs to damaged items that later lead to water damage, you won’t be covered.
  • Structural water damage: Damage from a structure like a pool isn’t always covered. However, some insurers will cover this type of damage.
  • Underground water seepage: If your basement floods due to neglect, it is not covered by homeowners insurance or flood insurance. 

Homeowners insurance also doesn’t cover the cause of the water damage. If a damaged dishwasher caused the water damage, for example, homeowners insurance will not pay you for a new machine.

How to make a successful water damage insurance claim

You’ll have a better chance of making a successful claim by following these steps:

  1. Take photos of the leak and any damage.
  2. Attempt to stop the leak and make any possible repairs so that there is no additional damage.
  3. Contact an assessor to evaluate the damage and how much the repairs will cost.

How to protect yourself from homeowners insurance claims that might get denied

Even though some instances of water damage are not covered by homeowners insurance, you can still make sure you are financially protected. For starters, regularly maintaining your home and repairing any damages as soon as they occur can prevent water damage altogether.

For example, homeowners insurance does not cover groundwater seepage. You can protect your basement from flooding by regularly inspecting the foundation of your home to ensure it is solid. 

You also can dispute a claim that has been denied. Read the fine print of your policy and consult a lawyer familiar with your state’s insurance laws to ensure you receive any payment you are entitled to. You will need to include photos, a letter explaining the situation, and a letter from an independent appraiser in your dispute.

Remember if you have a sudden incident, such as a leaky roof or overflowing washing machine, you need to act fast to try and control the damage done as soon as possible. If your insurance company doesn’t think you took action to curtail the damage, it may not pay out for all of your damages.

It’s a good idea to talk with your home insurance agent to fully understand what your home insurance covers. If you’re in the market for a new homeowners policy or it’s time to comparison shop, check out Insure.com’s best home insurance companies.

Frequently asked questions

Does homeowners insurance cover water damage from rain?

Yes. Homeowners insurance covers damage from rain, as long as no damage was caused due to neglect. 

Does homeowners insurance cover foundation leaks?

No. Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover any water damage that comes from the foundation of the home. You should regularly check that your home’s foundation is solid to prevent any leaks. 

Are pool leaks covered by homeowners insurance?

Only sometimes. Damage caused due to a pool on your property will not be covered by homeowners insurance by some homeowners insurance policies, but others may cover that type of leak. If you have a pool, you should read the fine print of your policy before buying it.

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Nupur Gambhir
Managing Editor

 
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Nupur Gambhir is a content editor and licensed life, health, and disability insurance expert. She has extensive experience bringing brands to life and has built award-nominated campaigns for travel and tech. Her insurance expertise has been featured in Bloomberg News, Forbes Advisor, CNET, Fortune, Slate, Real Simple, Lifehacker, The Financial Gym, and the end-of-life planning service.

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