Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?

Whether homeowners insurance covers water damage depends on the type of damage.

Kevin Payne
Written byKevin Payne
Kevin Payne
Kevin Payne
  • 5+ years writing insurance, travel, and personal finance content

  • Founder of FamilyMoney Adventure blog

Kevin is a seasoned writer who leverages his love of budgeting and all things personal finance to create informative, thoroughly researched insurance and money content.

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Danny Smith
Edited byDanny Smith
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Danny Smith
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 4+ years in content creation and marketing

As Insurify’s home and pet insurance editor, Danny also specializes in auto insurance. His goal is to help consumers navigate the complex world of insurance buying.

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Updated January 30, 2023

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As a homeowner, you know all too well about the damage water can do to your home. Nearly 20% of homeowners insurance losses result from water damage and freezing.[1] Homeowners insurance generally covers water damage in your house when the damage occurs suddenly and accidentally, like from a burst pipe or appliance overflow.

Not all water damage falls under a standard policy, however. If you live in an area prone to flooding, for example, you may need a separate flood insurance policy to ensure coverage. Damage also isn’t covered if it’s due to negligence on the homeowner’s part.

Quick Facts
  • Standard homeowners policies cover accidental and sudden water damage.

  • Homeowners policies typically provide coverage for storm-related damage.

  • Basic homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood damage.

What types of water damage does homeowners insurance cover?

Most homeowners insurance policies include dwelling coverage and personal property coverage, and each protects different parts of your home if you experience water damage. For example, dwelling coverage will cover damage to a wall that results from a burst pipe, while personal property coverage will cover damage to your laptop as a result of that same burst pipe.

A standard homeowners insurance policy covers about 16 types of damage, or perils. The common thread with covered perils is that the damage must be sudden, accidental, and within your home. If the damage is a result of negligence or takes place outside your dwelling in your yard, the damage won’t be covered.

Good to know

A peril is an event that can damage your home or property.

Here are some typical causes of water damage covered under homeowners policies:

  • Burst pipes: Your home’s pipes can develop an ice blockage during cold winter weather, eventually causing them to burst.

  • Appliances: Standard policies cover water damage from appliance overflows, like a dishwasher.

  • Ice dams: Ice dams can form on your roof during the winter, preventing melting snow from draining properly. These blockages can often lead to water damage to ceilings, walls, and insulation.

  • Rainstorms: Homeowners insurance typically covers water damage that comes from the top down, like sudden rainstorms.

  • Fire extinguisher/hose damage: If you experience a fire in your home, you’re protected against any water damage from fire extinguishers and fire hoses.

  • Sewer and drain backups: Some policies cover sewer and drain backups.[2]

Check with your insurance company to determine what water damage your homeowners insurance policy covers.

See Also: How Much Does Flood Insurance Cost?

What types of water damage does homeowners insurance not cover?

Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover all water damage, especially if it could’ve been prevented through proper maintenance. Some damages require purchasing additional coverage, like flood insurance. Here are some causes of water damage that most standard homeowners insurance policies don’t cover:

  • Flooding: “Nearly all standard homeowners insurance policies exclude coverage for floods,” says Angel Conlin, chief insurance officer at Kin Insurance, “which insurance companies consider to be water damage that starts outside your home.” Many insurance companies offer separate flood insurance policies that can protect you if you experience water damage from flooding.

  • Negligence: Your policy won’t cover water damage resulting from negligence on the homeowner’s part. Take care to properly maintain your home to avoid out-of-pocket repair costs.

  • Hidden leaks: Sudden leaks are covered, such as those caused by a burst pipe, but if you have a sink or appliance leaking for a long time, homeowners insurance won’t cover damages or repair costs. Make sure to file claims as soon as you notice any damage from leakage.

  • The source of water damage: Homeowners insurance covers water damage from the selected perils in your policy but typically won’t cover the cost of repairing or replacing the cause, like a leaky dishwasher or a burst pipe.

  • Sewer backups: Depending on your policy, sewer backups may or may not be included in covered perils. Your insurance company likely offers separate sewer or water backup policies to protect you against such issues.

Learn More: How to File a Flood Insurance Claim

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What should you do in case of water damage?

In the event of water damage in your home, take the following steps to protect your home and resolve the issue:

1. Identify the source. Once you notice standing or running water in your home, seek out the source of the water. Take steps to stop the water immediately, whether by stopping it at the source or shutting off the main water supply to your home.

2. Prevent further damage. Take measures to protect the rest of your home and belongings. Turn off power to your home or at least the affected area. Move belongings, furniture, and other personal property away from the source.

3. Contact your insurance company. Once you’ve taken steps to reduce the damage and protect your belongings, contact your insurance company to start the claim process. Ask questions to determine whether the damage falls under covered perils.

4. Repair the water damage. Water can severely damage your property if not handled swiftly. Start repairing the damage to avoid further issues, like mold or structural damage. Determine whether you can handle repairs yourself or need to hire a professional restoration company.

5. Dry your home. Use wet vacs, fans, dehumidifiers, and other tools to remove any remaining water and completely dry the affected area.

6. Inspect your home. Thoroughly inspect your home for mold, which can grow in as little as 24 hours. Check carpets, drywall, flooring, and walls for signs of mold growth.[3]

Important Information:

When looking for mold, check for dark, damp spots on and around the affected areas. Smell the damaged areas, too: Mold often has a mildewy, musty smell.

How to file a water damage claim

After stopping the water and preventing further damage, you’ll need to file a home insurance claim with your provider. The insurance claim process may vary depending on the insurance provider. Follow these general guidelines to file a homeowners insurance claim for water damage:

1. Contact your insurance company. Call your insurance agent or provider and let them know what happened. Your agent will walk you through the claims process and answer questions on what’s covered, deductibles, and other inquiries.

2. Submit your claim. Follow your insurer’s guidelines to complete the necessary claim forms. Some providers allow you to do this online or through a mobile app. Include all relevant information related to the incident and the damage that occurred.

3. Document the damage. Take photos and videos to document damages to your home, detached structures, and personal property. Compile a list of damaged belongings to share with your insurance company, and save any receipts for repairs performed to give to your agent.

4. Wait for a decision. Your insurance company may send an insurance adjuster to your home to assess the damage and determine whether it’s a covered event. The insurance company will then send an estimate or repair and a check for the estimated cost if your claim is approved.

5. Make repairs. Most insurance companies allow you to use any licensed contractor to complete repairs. If costs exceed the estimated cost, your insurance company may provide additional funds, but you might have to pay them out of pocket.[4]

Read More: Why Do Home Insurance Companies Deny Claims?

How to prevent water damage

The best way to deal with water damage is to prevent it from happening in the first place. While you may not be able to protect your home from all instances of water damage, you can reduce the risk by taking the following precautions:

  • Seal or reseal your basement. Ensure your basement walls and floor are properly waterproofed. Repair any cracks in your basement floor.

  • Check your drains. Make sure rainwater drains away from your home, not toward it.

  • Inspect your home. Regularly check your faucets, hoses, pipes, and other home features for cracks, leaks, and signs of deterioration. Check your roof and downspouts for damage and debris. Repair any potential issues.

  • Install a pressure release valve. An emergency pressure release valve can help prevent frozen pipes from bursting.

  • Protect your home during vacations. Shut off the water supply to your washing machine if you’re headed out of town on vacation.

  • Seal your windows. Properly sealed windows can protect your home from water seepage.

  • Move your valuables. Store valuables away from areas susceptible to water damage.

  • Plan ahead. “Ideally, you’d never have to make a claim, but be prepared in case you do,” Conlin says. “Create a home inventory that includes serial numbers, important receipts, and appraisals. Keep this and a copy of your insurance policy in a fireproof safe.”

More Info: Preparing for a Home Insurance Inspection

What are the other home insurance perils?

Water damage isn’t the only peril covered by homeowners insurance. Perils commonly covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy include: 

  • Fire

  • Smoke

  • Lightning

  • Windstorms

  • Hail

  • Explosion

  • Vandalism

  • Riot or civil commotion

  • Damage from vehicle or aircraft

  • Theft

  • Falling objects

  • Volcanic eruption

  • Power surges

  • Weight of ice, snow, or sleet[5]

While water damage accounts for nearly 20% of homeowners insurance losses, it’s not the most common peril among insurance claims. Wind and hail account for over 45% of insurance losses, while fire and lightning account for almost 24%.

How to compare homeowners insurance quotes

Comparing multiple home insurance companies will help you find the best coverage for your home and maybe even save you some money. You can compare homeowners insurance quotes online or through your insurance agent. It’s always a good idea to compare policies from multiple insurers before buying one.

Learn More: Homeowners Insurance Companies with the Cheapest Rates (2023)

Homeowners insurance and water damage FAQs

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about homeowners insurance and water damage.

  • Does home insurance cover water damage from a burst pipe?

    Yes, water damage from a burst pipe is covered under most standard homeowners insurance policies. Policies typically cover structural and property damage but not the cost to repair or replace the burst pipe.

  • Does homeowners insurance cover plumbing?

    No. Unfortunately, homeowners insurance typically only covers the damaged property itself, not the cause of the damage, like a burst pipe or leaking sink.

  • Does homeowners insurance cover roof leaks?

    Yes, roof leaks are generally covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy if they’re caused by a sudden, accidental event. But if your roof leaks due to lack of maintenance or negligence, your insurer will likely deny your claim.

  • Does homeowners insurance cover mold?

    Yes, homeowners insurance covers mold damage or removal as long as it’s the result of a covered peril.[6]

  • Does renters insurance cover water damage?

    Yes, renters insurance typically covers water damage to personal property when caused by a covered peril.[7]

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Sources

  1. Insurance Information Institute. "Facts + Statistics: Homeowners and renters insurance."
  2. Insurance Information Institute. "How to protect your home from water damage."
  3. Central Florida Restoration Solutions. "7 Steps to Take After Finding Water Damage in Your Home."
  4. Insurance Information Institute. "How to file a homeowners claim."
  5. Allstate. "What perils are covered by a homeowners insurance policy?."
  6. Progressive. "Does homeowners insurance cover mold?."
  7. American Family Insurance. "Does Renters Insurance Cover Water Damage?."
Kevin Payne
Kevin Payne

Kevin Payne is a freelance writer and family travel and budget enthusiast behind FamilyMoneyAdventure.com. His work has been featured in Forbes Advisor, CreditCards.com, Bankrate, SlickDeals, Finance Buzz, The Ascent, Student Loan Planner, and more. Kevin lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and four teenagers.

Danny Smith
Edited byDanny Smith
Photo of an Insurify author
Danny Smith
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 4+ years in content creation and marketing

As Insurify’s home and pet insurance editor, Danny also specializes in auto insurance. His goal is to help consumers navigate the complex world of insurance buying.

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