Out of all the places where you can expect water damage, the basement is the most obvious one. Located at the lowest point in the house, it is a natural area where water would collect, and since basements are often used for storage, water can cause a lot of damage there. This makes waterproofing a basement an obvious move. Sadly, your homeowners insurance is unlikely to cover basement waterproofing.
Your insurance will generally only cover sudden damage, and it will often explicitly not cover costs related to maintenance. There are rare exceptions where your insurance might cover basement waterproofing; things are rarely ever completely set in stone when it comes to insurance. However in the eyes of the insurance, maintenance costs are the job of the homeowner.
Your Insurance Exists to Protect You from Sudden and Unpredictable Perils
It might make sense to think your insurance should cover basement waterproofing. Wouldn’t that protect an insurance from paying more in the future? This represents a fundamental misunderstanding of what an insurance is supposed to do, however: protect you from sudden and reasonably unavoidable losses.
This isn’t limited to just waterproofing. It is considered negligent to not take precautions, and negligence in general isn’t covered by your home insurance. Infestations are a good example of this idea – it is considered the responsibility of the homeowner to prevent infestations, and if an infestation did occur, it is generally their responsibility to cover the cost of the extermination. The same idea holds true for preventable basement waterproofing: if a homeowner can waterproof their basement, it is expected that they cover the costs as doing otherwise would be negligent.
With all that said, there are situations where basement waterproofing may be covered. If your basement is damaged due to a peril which serves as a proximate cause, your insurance may pay to have your basement repaired, including any waterproofing that might have been damaged. A peril is any event that can cause damage to your property. If a peril is covered by your insurance, and it results in damage to your basement (including any waterproofing you had done), then your insurance might cover the cost of repairing your basement and its waterproofing. Note though that it’s actually covering the peril that serves as the proximate or major cause rather than the waterproofing itself.
Since Basement Waterproofing Itself Likely Won’t Be Covered, It’s Important That You Do It
As a homeowner, it is important to take all preventative measures that you can. If your basement is at risk of sustaining water damage, it is important to make sure you avoid this problem at all costs. Not only to avoid damage to your own property but because negligence can weaken home insurance claims.
Consider, for instance, if you start to discover rising damp in your basement. Rising damp is a type of water damage where the material of a wall draws in moisture from the ground. This problem occurs with porous materials, including things like concrete, bricks or certain kinds of stone, and is due to the physical interaction of water and the porous material. Rising dampness causes water damage, and if left untreated it can cause major structural problems, as well as mold and other unsightly issues. If this starts to cause damage to objects in your basement – due to things like increased humidity – your insurance will not only deny covering the cost of the rising damp, but it will also deny covering the cost of replacing any damaged objects inside of your basement.
When It Comes to Homeowner Insurance, It Pays to Be Proactive
The lesson to draw is that you should only rely on your insurance to pay for problems that you could not have reasonably avoid. By being forward-thinking and taking precautionary steps to stop little problems before they become big problems, you can help increase the chance of a claim being accepted.
This applies to more than just waterproofing your basement: homeowners should take care to always monitor their property, and make sure everything is well taken care of, at the very least so that when you do end up in a situation where you absolutely need your insurance to step in, there can be no disputes over potential neglect.