Homeowners insurance policies cover damage to your home resulting from unexpected occurrences, such as storms, fires, and some water damage. For example, if your home sustains damage because of a rupture in its water lines, most policies will pay to repair the damage. However, damage from a water main break may result in a claim denial because the main belongs to the city. While water damage may be eligible for coverage, routine maintenance of your home’s water lines comes at your expense.
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Covered Water Damage
Your homeowners insurance specifies covered perils. These perils are infrequent and sudden events that occur with little or no warning. When it comes to water damage, issues like pipe bursts and sewage backups meet this definition.
Pipe bursts are water leaks that occur because a hole suddenly appears in one of your water lines. These are termed bursts because the hold is large enough to cause water to stream outwards. It will quickly flow through walls and ceilings in these cases, causing immense damage very quickly.
You will know right away if a pipe bursts, assuming you are home. The first thing to do is cut off the home’s water. This will stop the flow and arrest the damage. Next, contact a plumber or the fire department to report the leak and have the pipe repaired.
Slow leaks are another matter. For example, a tiny drip that builds up in a wall or soffit, eventually resulting in mold, is not a sudden event. Because damage occurs over a long period, many insurance adjusters rule them maintenance issues.
A sewage backup occurs when pipes become clogged. Sediments, leaves, and other debris can cause them. Also, garbage disposals are notorious facilitators of sewage backups. Grease and other foods can stick in pipes, restricting flow and eventually causing a backup.
When a backup occurs, water flows out of the faucets rather than into them. If caught early, you may be able to prevent them from overflowing sinks into your home. However, once the backup goes far enough, you are in for significant water damage.
Most homeowners policies will pay for repairs and remediation after a sewage backup.
You can prevent sewage backups by having pipes rooted if water flow slows. Also, avoid stuffing garbage disposals and deposit stringy, difficult to grind foods in the garbage can.
Water Main Breaks Are Excluded from Homeowners Insurance
Water mains are the large plumbing structures that distribute water throughout the city. They run under roadways, sidewalks, and yards. Water mains are city property, so damage from them is the municipality’s responsibility, not your insurance company’s.
Unfortunately, water main backups and bursts can result in water flowing into your home. This flow can cause tremendous damage, destroying structures, running personal property, and leaving behind dangerous mold.
If your home suffers impact due to a water main failure, report it to your municipality right away. Often, it can be difficult to establish whether the water flowed from your pipes or the city’s. For that reason, it’s a good idea to also report the damage to your insurance company. The company will investigate the cause of the damage. If it came from your pipes, your insurer will pay; however, if it came from a water main, you will then know the city is responsible.
Water damage can cause thousands of dollars in destruction in mere minutes. A pipe burst or sewage backup is a serious emergency that must be handled immediately. Thankfully, your homeowners insurance company pays for these types of damages; however, a slow leak or maintenance and upgrades to your water lines are your responsibility.