How does home insurance cover water damage?
Burst pipes, storms and floods: get home insurance for water damage.
Home insurance for water damage is usually split into three separate types of cover: floods, storms and rainwater, and escape of water. Flood cover is often optional, and you need to be careful a claim isn't rejected due to what insurers call "gradual damage".
What's classified as water damage?
Water damage can include sudden or accidental damage as a result of water, most commonly from a burst pipe, water overflow, flood or storm. Home insurance providers usually only cover you for sudden and accidental damage; that is, water damage that occurred quickly and unexpectedly. Gradual water damage, on the other hand, is usually not covered by most home insurance policies. Common claims can include the following:
- Burst taps or pipes, e.g. your kitchen sink pipe bursts suddenly
- Damage caused by a storm or a flood
- Broken kitchen or bathroom appliances that cause water damage
- Sewer backup and overflow
What is gradual damage?
Gradual damage is damage that has developed over time; it is something that has started small but is visible in some way, sometimes even if the homeowner is not aware of it. It can include damage caused by mould, leaky taps and pipes (provided it starts slow), seepage and a deteriorating roof.
To ensure you avoid gradual damage, it's important to take preventative measures. Keep on top of home repairs and have your home inspected regularly to ensure there's nothing an insurer could deny was the result of gradual damage.
How does home insurance cover water damage?
Home insurance usually covers water damage that is the result of floods, storms and rainwater, and escape of liquid. If you live in a flood area, be sure to check you are covered. Flood is often an optional extra you may need to pay extra for. Below is a table of some insurers that include water damage cover for all three services.
|Flood||Storms and rainwater||Escape of liquid|
Does home insurance cover leaking pipes?
Home insurance will most likely cover leaking pipes if the damage was caused by escaping water that occurred suddenly and without warning. In some cases, insurers will cover you if it occurred slowly over a period of time, but you could not have been reasonably aware of it.
A burst pipe generally comes under "escape of liquid or water" and can cover you for a sudden and immediate leak (not something gradual that you were well aware of) as a result of the following:
- Appliances, such as a washing machine, dishwasher etc
- Fixed items, such as baths, sinks and toilets
- Fixed systems, such as drainage or sewage systems
- Water-filled items, such as aquariums and waterbeds
If you don't know where the leak is coming from, some home insurance providers will pay the reasonable costs up to a certain price to locate the source of the problem.
Does home insurance cover storm surge?
Home insurance generally does not cover damage caused by storm surges. This is because it is considered an action or movement of the sea, which is usually excluded by most home insurance providers. An action or movement of the sea is generally defined as a rise in the ocean or sea level, a storm surge, a high tide or a king tide.
However, you are generally covered for storms. Damage that is caused by storms, lightning, wind, hail and snow are often included under storm cover as is stormwater overflow from roof gutters and their downpipes. This can also include instances where the storm causes mechanical, electrical or electronic breakdown and failure.
Does home insurance cover leaking roofs?
If water damage has occurred as a result of a poorly maintained or deteriorating roof, then your home insurance will most likely not cover you. If a leaking roof occurs as a result of sudden and unexpected damage, like a fallen tree, then your home insurance should protect you.
As a good rule of thumb, if you find yourself thinking "I should really fix this", then you should see that it's repaired as soon as possible. Otherwise, you risk any claim you make being rejected as gradual damage. This includes a roof that needs repair, be it because of rot, mould or corrosion.
What to do if you get water damage?
To file a successful claim for water damage through your home insurance, follow these steps:
- Contact your home insurance provider as soon as there is damage.
- Give them as much information as possible. Document the value of all the items you can think of that have been damaged and take as many photos as possible.
- If possible, make an effort to control the leak and dry out your home to prevent further damage.
- Your insurer will probably send someone to take stock of the damage.
- Obtain at least three independent estimates from qualified general contractors to work out how much the damage has cost.
- If your claim is approved, your insurer will talk to you about making necessary repairs to your home as well as replacing damaged contents.
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