Water damage: Four home insurance scenarios
Water damage is one of the most common reasons people make claims on their home insurance. Burst pipes, leaky appliances and flooded basements often lead people to discover the details of their home insurance policies.
Although insurance companies may pay to replace a carpet damaged by your dishwasher leak, you'll probably have to replace or repair the damaged hose at your own cost. If a sudden, unforeseen problem such as a frozen pipe leads to water damage, your home insurance covers repairs to both the broken pipe and your home and furnishings.
Here are common water-damage scenarios and their insurance consequences.
Scenario No. 1: The temperature drops to 10 below zero, causing your water pipes to freeze and burst. Your floor is now covered in 6 inches of water.
Are you covered? Yes, you're covered for water damage from burst pipes, but most policies won't cover you if you've left the house unoccupied and without heat. If that's the case, your claim could be denied because you've failed to perform the necessary upkeep that would prevent the accident.
Scenario No. 2: Water leaks from your backyard pool, ruining your manicured lawn and flooding your basement
Are you covered? The damage to your basement and your personal property are covered, but not the damage to your lawn. According to a sample policy, "We do not cover land, including land on which the dwelling is located." However, your lawn is covered if it's damaged by certain "named perils." These include fire, explosion, riot, aircraft, vehicles not owned by you and vandalism. The amount of coverage for lawns and plants is small — usually only up to $500. Swimming-pool leaks are not a named peril. But if your leak was caused by a tree falling on the pool, it would be covered.
Scenario No. 3: Your washing machine overflows, flooding the basement.
Are you covered? Yes. But it depends on your home insurance company's view of the problem: Did you fail to maintain the washer properly or did sudden, accidental damage cause the flood? Usually, water from a broken appliance will be covered.
Scenario No. 4: A sewer backs up, flooding your basement.
Are you covered? No. Standard home insurance policies don't cover sewer backups, and many specifically exclude damage from sewer back-ups. Special endorsements are available, at added cost, for sewers and drains.