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Learn the role homeowners insurance plays in covering water damage from burst pipes, leaks and severe weather.


Standard homeowners insurance covers water damage that happens suddenly or accidentally as a result of a malfunction within your home, or from heavy rain, but it doesn’t cover water damage from flooding.

Is water damage from burst pipes due to power outage covered?

You're also covered if the power goes out and your pipes freeze and burst causing water damage. This has been the case for some homeowners in Texas, where frigid temperatures caused a massive power outage.

"If you are without power or water, there are concerns about frozen pipes which can burst and flood, which I have heard has been a big issue in Texas. There is coverage for burst pipes, as long as they were properly maintained," said Loretta Worters, vice president of media relations for the Insurance Information Institute (III).

But while damage caused by the busted/frozen pipes would be covered, including any personal property that might get ruined, the actual pipe itself would not be covered in the claim, only the damages, says Brad Harrell, owner and agent at the Harrell Insurance Agency, based in Fort Worth, Texas. "The same goes for any other types of water claims, for example when a water heater bursts," he says. "The water heater wouldn't be covered, but damage caused by the burst would be, flooring, walls, personal property and so on."

It’s important to know what types of water damage insurance covers because about one in 50 insured homes has a property damage claim caused by water damage or freezing each year, according to the III.

From 2014-2018, the average cost of a homeowners' water damage insurance claim for water damage and freezing was $10,849, according to the III. Water damage and freezing is the second most common home insurance claim. (Wind and hail damage is number one, at an average claim cost of $11,200, the III reports.)

What type of water damage is covered by homeowners insurance?

Some examples of water damage covered by homeowners insurance policies include:

  • Leaking or burst pipes, if it’s sudden (instead of gradual) and not due to deferred or neglected maintenance
  • Damage from an overflowing sink or tub
  • Damage if a hose breaks or leaks
  • Damage from heavy rainfall
  • Damage after a fire
  • Damage from a roof leak

Water damage that’s not covered by homeowners insurance:

  • Flooding
  • Damage if, say, snow melts and floods your basement
  • Damage due to lack of maintenance and repairs to the structure and property
  • Sewer back ups
  • Mold
  • Seepage or leaks through the foundation
  • Sump pump failure
  • The source of the damage isn’t typically covered, so, for instance, if a washing machine breaks and floods the room, the floor repair would be covered but you wouldn’t get money to replace the washing machine.

"Generally speaking, water that comes from the top down, such as rainfall, is covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy. Water that comes from the bottom up, such as an overflowing river, is not unless you have a separate flood insurance policy," says Worters.

Does renters insurance cover water damage?

Renters insurance covers your personal belongings damaged by water --- it does not cover damage to the dwelling structure, that’s covered by your landlord’s policy.

Like water damage insurance for a home you own, renters insurance doesn’t cover all types of water damage. If your sink, tub or washing machine accidentally overflows, or an air conditioner leaks, it’s covered. But if there’s a sewer backup or the damage is related to flooding, it won’t be covered, unless you add the additional peril or rider to your renters insurance.

Renters insurance also covers damage to your belongings due to frozen water in pipes, as well as damage from accidental water or steam overflow from plumbing, radiator and cooling systems.

Additionally, if you’re at fault, renters insurance helps to pay for water damage you cause to neighboring units. However, if your landlord was negligent in maintaining the unit and was responsible for the water leak, your insurance company would likely try to get the money for repairs from your landlord’s insurance company.

Water damage coverage for roof leaks

Depending on the roof leak’s cause, your homeowners insurance may or may not pay for repairs. In most cases, if an unavoidable event, such as a strong storm, caused your roof to leak, you are likely covered. However, should your roof leak because it's old and neglected, then you may be deemed responsible for repairing any damage.

"State Farm evaluates each claim on a case-by-case basis," says Angie Harrier, a spokeswoman for the insurance company.

Even if you are covered for roof leaks under your homeowners insurance policy, you must pay your deductible out-of-pocket—which may be a set amount, such as $500 or $1,000, or a percentage of your claim. So if your claim is $7,000 for a major roof repair and your deductible is $500, you should receive a check from your insurance company for $6,500.

Homeowners insurance coverage for mold

Mold is one of the worst byproducts of water damage. Mold is not only hazardous to your health, but the pesky spores can discolor walls and ceilings, rot wood and ductwork, and create a foul odor. Mold can reduce your home’s value and frighten buyers away.

As with roof leaks, the mold’s source determines whether or not it is covered. If mold is the result of something that's covered, such as a weather-related burst pipe, then your insurance should pay for remediation, Worters says. However, if mold is the result of failure to properly maintain your property, your homeowners insurance may not pay for cleaning it up.

"Mold caused by water from excessive humidity, leaks, condensation or flooding is a maintenance issue for the property owner," Worters says. It's like termite or mildew prevention, and is not covered by a typical home insurance policy.

If you're worried about mold, ask for a mold insurance policy attachment or endorsement that allows you to add mold coverage. The III estimates the average mold claim to be $15,000 to $30,000. However, even if your policy covers mold, your claim may be limited. Some policies have limits of $5,000 for such claims.

It's important to remove mold before it grows large enough to be a health or other hazard, Worters says. "Caught early, mold usually can be removed by cleaning thoroughly with a solution of bleach and water."

Home insurance for sewer and drain backups

Many homeowners insurance policies don't cover sewer backups, according to Worters. "However, you can purchase a sewer backup rider for a homeowners or renters policy for about an additional $50 a year," she says. The limits on such policies vary according to the insurer.

water damage quote

Flood damage and homeowners insurance

Flood protection is not part of a standard home insurance policy. However, you can buy flood insurance from the federal government's National Flood Insurance Program, (NFIP) or from some private insurers. If you live in a flood-prone area, your mortgage company may require you to buy flood insurance. Flood-prone areas have a one in four chance of flooding during your 30-year mortgage, according to NFIP.

Does insurance cover additional living expenses from water damage or flooding?

Yes, if your home has water damage from a roof leak or burst pipe, and you need to live elsewhere while your home is being repaired, the additional living expenses portion of your policy (also called loss of use coverage) will cover extra costs.

Most homeowners and renters insurance policies provide coverage for additional living expenses incurred if your home or rental unit is unlivable. The insurance company pays for you to live at another location (at a price similar to your old home or apartment) while it is being repaired. Save your receipts if you need to stay in a hotel.

If your displaced from your home because of flood damage, you're not covered for additional living expenses, even if you have flood insurance from the NFIP. If you have a flood insurance policy from a private company, however, it will likely include loss of use coverage.

FEMA can help impacted homeowners and renters with alternative living expenses if the president issues a major disaster declaration and homes are uninhabitable.

How do I make a water damage insurance claim?

If your possessions were damaged, you file a claim under the personal property portion of your policy. If your home is damaged, you would file a claim under the dwelling coverage part of your policy.

Your insurance company will send an adjuster to assess the damage and determine whether or not it's covered. You can also hire a public insurance adjuster who can help you navigate the claims process.

Water damage insurance claim tips

  • Take photographs, especially if you need to make temporary repairs. It will help if you can provide any receipts to your insurance company for the items that were damaged by the water. 

  • The choice of contractor is typically yours, so get several quotes. However, your insurance company may recommend contractors. 

  • Know where the water main shutoff is located. Being able to quickly shut off the water in your home can stop a leak from becoming a major flood. 

  • Inspect water sources annually before a leak happens. Check hoses, faucets, your water heater, washing machine connections and shower or tub.

  • Install gutter guards. They’ll keep debris out that prevents water overflow which can damage your roof. 

How to get insurance to pay for water damage

You will need to file a claim reporting the damage.

How much you receive depends on whether or not you have replacement cost homeowners insurance. Those with an understanding of insurance basics know that if you have replacement cost coverage, you should be paid for the full cost of repairing or replacing what's been damaged with similar materials as the original. If you don't have replacement cost, your insurance company may factor in the age of the materials or appliances that need replacing and subtract for "wear and tear."

Here’s how to get insurance to pay for water damage:

  • Know what’s covered through your insurance policy. Some companies don’t cover sewer and drain backups, for example, and you may need to buy a rider for such events.

  • Be aware of perils in your area, such as living near a river or in a hurricane zone. You may want to buy additional flood or hurricane insurance to cover excess damage. 

  • Make sure you document everything properly. Not being able to prove the extent of the damage or what happened coil affect how much you’ll receive.

Water damage impact on home insurance quotes

"A claim for water damage triggers concerns by insurers largely because of the costs of eliminating mold," Worters says.

Plumbing problems that lead to water damage can be a red-flag for insurers, particularly if the problems continue and result in more claims, she says. "If the damage involves broken pipes or leaky windows, fix the problem," Worters advises.

If you don't, you may be considered a high risk because you don't maintain your property and your future rates could increase. If you’ve made a water damage claim, carefully research ways to reduce your premium costs when buying homeowners insurance in the future.

One water damage claim increases your rate by 25% on average, according to a 2021 Insurance.com homeowners claim analysis.

You can keep your homeowner rates steady by making repairs or improvements to your home, such as adding insulation to decrease the likelihood of ice dams causing water damage. If you make repairs or improvements, take photographs so you can prove that the windows, roof, siding and other home features were in good shape before the disaster damaged them.

Shop for home insurance quotes and compare rates from various companies to be sure you are paying the lowest amount for comparable homeowners insurance policies.