What Kinds of Water Damage Are Covered and What Kinds Aren’t?
Water damage can wreak havoc on a home. In fact, you might not even know about water damage until you notice mildew, mold, or rotting wood in your household. Remediation can be expensive, so it’s essential to know what kinds of damage are covered under your policy. While every policy is different, the following are some common scenarios of what might or might not be covered under your homeowner’s insurance policy:
Covered: Sudden Leaks or Accidental Discharge
Say you’re doing the laundry on a busy day and notice a telltale gushing sound coming from your finished basement. You go downstairs, only to find that a utility hose malfunctioned, spilling water all over the floor. You clean up the damage as best you can, but notice your floors beginning to buckle in the next couple of days.
In this case, your insurance policy will likely cover the damages, assuming you report them in a timely manner. The two keywords here are “sudden” and “accidental.” It would have been difficult, if not impossible, for you to foresee a malfunctioning hose. Therefore, your insurance policy is likely to compensate you for any losses.
Not Covered: Damage from Unresolved Repairs
The other major type of damage is called “gradual damage.” This occurs when a problem worsens over time, creating more damage until the situation reaches a tipping point. While your insurance company will likely assist in covering the cost of sudden damage, they will not when damage stems from an unresolved or persistent maintenance issue – an example might include a continuously leaking pipe that causes widespread damage in the walls.
Gradual damage claims are tricky, and it’s difficult to determine if an insurance company will deny or accept a claim. In certain circumstances, your insurer might accept a claim depending on policy wording. For example, if your policy covers mold remediation, your insurer may choose to cover gradual damage resulting from water leaks.
Not Covered: Repairing the Source of the Water Damage
At the same time, your insurance company is unlikely to cover the reason for your water damage. While they may cover losses associated with a broken washing machine, you shouldn’t expect a check to replace the washing machine itself.
Not Covered: Flood Damage
It’s important to note that water damage and flood damage are not the same thing. Depending on where you live, your insurer may require you to purchase flood insurance. In this scenario, your best course of action is purchasing a flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program.
If you have sudden or accidental water damage and you’re facing a claim denial, the best thing you can do is ask your insurer for a full explanation. This will equip you to provide the needed documentation to file an appeal. If you believe your insurer is acting in bad faith, contact a bad faith insurance attorney and ask for a strategic review of your legal options. Sometimes, the simple act of getting lawyers involved encourages insurance companies to take your claim more seriously.