Storms are not fun for homeowners. Sure, rain can be tranquil and serene, but it can become a massive nuisance to the homeowner, especially if the storm is a rough one. If you happen to have a roof leak or some other kind of water damage from a storm, will your homeowners insurance cover the damage? Generally, the answer is yes, but there are exceptions. These exceptions largely deal with the topic of neglect: if a storm causes water damage because you didn’t take proper precautions, you can expect insurance to challenge claims related to the damage. There are also certain instances, such as flooding from a storm surge, that won’t be covered by your homeowners insurance.
Water Damage Is Generally Considered to Be a Covered Peril
A peril is any event that can cause damage to your property. Your insurance policy will outline which perils are considered covered, and which ones are not considered covered. With modern home insurance policies, you’ll typically have two categories of perils: named and unnamed. Named perils are those that are explicitly listed, and unnamed perils are ones not listed.
Surprisingly, when it comes to your actual house, most insurance policies cover all unnamed perils, while not covering a specific list of named perils. This leaves you with more coverage, while clearly outlining what isn’t covered. Water damage is typically included among the unnamed perils, though with certain caveats. One of those caveats is neglect.
Your insurance exists to protect you from sudden, unavoidable problems. If a problem occurs slowly (and can thus be dealt with) or is otherwise avoidable, then your insurance will generally not cover it. Mold is a perfect example of this – if you have a moisture problem in an attic or a basement, and your house acquires a mold infestation, there is a large chance that your insurance company won’t cover it. Why? Because it is your duty as a homeowner to inspect your attic or basement for signs of mold and moisture and to deal with it before it becomes a major problem.
Infestations are another good example. Infestations don’t happen overnight, rather it takes time for the insects to colonize your property. Oftentimes, your homeowners insurance won’t cover the cost of removing the infestation because it is understood that the homeowner could have avoided the infestation if they had either been more vigilant or had hired a pest control company to treat the property with insecticide to avoid any infestation.
Water Damage Can Become an Invalid Claim If Elements of Neglect Are Present
Water damage is often a covered peril. Whether it’s from an accidental faucet overflow, a faulty pipe that bursts, or a leaky roof during a storm, your insurance will often cover these events. What turns a water damage claim invalid, is if it occurs due to neglect. For example, if you haven’t had your windows inspected for a long time, and enough time has passed where you can begin to expect your windows to stop being properly sealed, this will weaken your claim with your insurance. Prior leaks that were ignored or fixed quickly with a temporary solution will also weaken a water damage claim.
With that said, if you do take care to maintain your house and fortify it against storms, such as making sure your windows are still sealed properly, making sure your roof is properly intact, then you can expect the water damage to be covered by your insurance. The extent of coverage will depend on what type of policy you have. HO-3 policies are the most common, but HO-5 policies will cover more expensive items, and will generally cover more of the cost of replacing an item.
It’s worth noting that your insurance company will likely name flooding from storms and hurricanes as uncovered perils. The reason for this is that widespread damage from these events will end up bankrupting an insurance company due to the high volume of claims that would be made on a regular insurance policy. Instead, you will typically purchase special policies that cover these problems. Sometimes, an insurance company will offer these extra policies, however, the government will often offer insurance that covers these sorts of massively destructive events.