Think about returning home from a short vacation to find that your washing machine supply hose has failed, and your beautiful hardwood floors are soaked, you instantly go for the never-used shop-vac and put it to use. After hours of back-breaking vacuuming and mopping, your floors look dry, not the end of the world.
About a week later you begin noticing your wood floors beginning to buckle and the seams pulling apart. Then the thought enters your head, “will my insurance cover this?”
In this case, you’re in luck because most homeowner policies will cover damage caused by the sudden and accidental discharge of water. Your insurance carrier will likely pay to repair or replace the floor covering that is damaged as a result of the washer hose failing.
What’s Not Covered
While water damage from sudden and accidental discharge of water is covered, there are some water damage events that are not:
- Unresolved Maintenance Issues – Although the washing machine episode is covered for sudden discharge, had the hose been leaking over a long period because it needed to be replaced, chances are you’ll be paying out of pocket. Slow leaks over time are considered maintenance issues and your insurer is not going to pay for your negligence.
- The Source of the Water Damage – Although your homeowner’s policy will pay for the damage caused by a burst pipe, they will not pay to repair or replace the pipe itself. In the example above, you would be paying out-of-pocket for the replacement washing machine hose.
- Water Backup – Water backup from an outside drain or sewer is not uncommon. Typically your home insurance will not pay for damages caused by water backing up into your home as the result of a failing sewer or drain. There is good news, however, most insurers will allow the applicant to purchase Water Backup coverage by endorsing (adding) it to the policy for an additional premium.
- Flood Damage – Standard homeowners insurance never covers the damage resulting from flood waters. Flood waters are rising waters typically resulting from a body of water or saturated ground. Only flood insurance covers this peril.
- Water Seepage – If your basement becomes wet and is damaged from water seeping into it, that is considered a maintenance issue and not sudden and accidental damage, so your policy will not cover the damage.
Insurers report that billions of dollars are paid out each year for water damage claims. In fact, water damage is the second most frequently filed claim in the United States. The American Insurance Association reports that water damage claims have been growing faster than any other claims category. Typically, water damage results from the following:
- Plumbing Problems
- Leaking Pipes
- Burst Pipes
- Frozen Pipes
- Broken washing machine or dishwasher hose.
- Leaky roof
For homeowners that have suffered through a major water damage claim, they know the resulting inconvenience, and subsequently are more likely to take the necessary steps to prevent a future event from happening. For those who have yet to file a water claim with their insurance agent, you may want to have a public adjuster on speed-dial.