Understanding water damage insurance claims
Besides wind and hail damage, water damage is the most common home insurance claim. Determining whether you’re covered can be tricky, and will usually depend on three key things:
Source of the damage: The phrase “consider the source” is particularly relevant when it comes to water damage. Water damage from the inside of your home, usually from a broken pipe or overflowing appliance, is likely to be covered. Roof leaks are generally covered, as well. However, you won’t be protected against a flood from the outside of your home.
Policy type: It’s important to know exactly what kind of water damage is covered on your home or condo policy. For instance, you may have a sump pump, designed to pump water out from underneath your house. If your pump breaks down, water could flood your basement. That’s why many insurers, including ASI, one of the insurers in Progressive's network and part of our family of companies, offer an optional coverage called “water back-up and sump overflow,” which protects you against a sump pump failure or a clogged sewer.
Sudden and accidental vs. gradual: Most insurance policies won’t protect you against gradual damage, or “wear and tear.” Some gradual damage is the result of negligence or improper maintenance—either way, it’s unlikely you’ll be covered. For example, if your bathroom sink has been leaking for several months, your policy won’t cover any resulting damage.
Examples of gradual damage
- Leaky pipes or faucets that weren’t addressed and eventually damage walls and floors
- Seepage from any foundational cracks in your home
- Deteriorating roof shingles which allow water intrusion from rain
However, if frozen temperatures cause a pipe to burst and flood your home, you’re generally covered because it was a sudden and accidental incident.
If frozen temperatures cause a pipe to burst and flood your home, you’re generally covered because it was a sudden and accidental incident.
Types of water damage generally covered
- Plumbing issues, including frozen pipes that eventually burst
- Overflow of an appliance (washing machine, bathtub, toilet, dishwasher, water heater)
- Damage from a fire extinguisher or hose used to extinguish a fire
Types of water damage generally not covered
- Water backup from an outside sewer: If you suffer water damage from a source outside of your home, it usually won’t be covered on a standard policy. Most insurers, including ASI, one of the insurers in Progressive’s network and part of our family of companies, offer sewer and water back up coverage for an overflow of an appliance.
- Flooding: A flood from the outside of your home, which is water damage from a natural source, is almost never covered on a standard home policy. If you live in a designated flood zone, you’ll want to purchase flood insurance separately from the National Flood Insurance Program. You’ll also want to consider some type of flood insurance if you live near an overflowing creek or pond or a steep hill prone to running water.
- The source of the water damage: Let’s say your dishwasher malfunctions and floods your kitchen and surrounding rooms. While your policy will cover water damage caused by the dishwasher, it will not cover the actual dishwasher.
- Negligence: Even in situations where it looks like you’re covered, your water damage claim could be denied if you failed to perform proper maintenance. For example, if your pipe freezes and bursts because your home wasn’t properly heated then your insurer could deny coverage. Or perhaps your 120-gallon water heater explodes—your claim may be denied if you neglected the necessary upkeep.
Mold from water damage
Mold could be covered on your policy if the infestation wasn’t due to a lack of maintenance or neglect. Check your policy details, as mold coverage varies with each insurer.
Will renters insurance cover water damage?
In cases of water damage, renters insurance works similarly to homeowners insurance. Your belongings are usually covered if the damage was sudden, accidental, and came from the inside of your residence. But, unlike homeowners insurance, any water damage to your residence’s structure is the responsibility of your landlord.