Omar Ochoa Law Firm

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?

Updated:

October 31, 2023

by

Omar Ochoa

October 31, 2023

April 16, 2024

Water damage can be a homeowner's worst nightmare, but it doesn't have to turn into a financial catastrophe.

In this guide, we'll show you how to navigate your homeowner's insurance policy to ensure that you get the coverage you need when facing water damage. Whether it's a burst pipe, heavy rain, or flooding, understanding the nuances of your insurance coverage is key to minimizing the impact of water damage on your home and finances.

Water Damage Insurance Claim Statistics

To get a better sense of just how big a problem water damage can be, take a look at these eye-opening statistics:

  • On average, around 1.6% of insured homes file a claim for water or freezing damage each year, implying that roughly 1 in 60 insured homes make such a claim annually.
  • In 2021, the loss category "water damage and freezing" accounted for 23.5% of all homeowners insurance losses, up from 19.9% in 2020. This category rose to 29.0% in 2019, up from 24.5% the previous year.
  • The average insurance claim for water damage is around $11,098, contributing to a nationwide cost of up to $20 billion annually.
  • The costs to restore water damage can range from $1,308 to $5,916, depending on the severity of the damage. Restoration costs for slight water damage (Class 1) can be as low as $150, while severe water damage (Class 4) can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

As you can clearly see, water damage is a possibility every homeowner must plan for when taking out an insurance policy to cover their domicile and belongings.

Type of Water Damage Cost Range
Water Leak Repair $150 - $500
Ceiling Water Damage Repair $300 - $1,000
Drywall Repair $350 - $1,000
Carpet and Flooring Replacement $700 - $2,500
Mold Remediation $500 - $6,000
Basement Water Damage Cleanup $1,500 - $10,000
Roof Leak Repair $350 - $1,500
Foundation Water Damage Repair $2,000 - $10,000
Burst Pipe Repair $400 - $1,500
Bathroom Water Damage Repair $500 - $3,000

When Is Water Damage Typically Covered by Insurance?

Does homeowners insurance cover water damage? To answer this question, we've outlined various water damage scenarios and provided insights into whether your homeowners insurance is likely to cover the resulting costs.

When Is Water Damage Typically Covered by Insurance?

Sudden Pipe Bursts

A standard homeowners insurance policy typically covers pipes that burst unexpectedly, with coverage that extends to both plumbing and heating systems. However, it's essential to note that the burst might not be covered if it occurred due to negligence or lack of maintenance.

Storm-Related Damage

When rain or hail finds its way into your home as a result of storm-related damage, homeowners insurance usually steps in. This coverage includes damage to your roof, walls, floors, and personal belongings.

Appliance Leaks

Malfunctioning household appliances like washing machines, dishwashers, or water heaters are frequent causes of water damage. Your homeowners insurance will likely cover the damage they cause, but it's essential to report the incident promptly.

Frozen Pipes

Sudden pipe bursts due to freezing temperatures are also generally covered. However, insurers may impose certain requirements, such as proper insulation and heating, to prevent freezing-related damage.

Accidental Overflows

Overflowing tubs, toilets, and sinks are often included in homeowners insurance coverage, provided they aren't due to negligence or lack of maintenance. It's crucial to demonstrate that the overflow was indeed accidental.

Roof Leaks

If your roof leaks as a result of a covered peril like hail or wind damage, homeowners insurance usually covers the water damage. That said, the leak might not be covered if it happens because of cumulative wear and tear.

Firefighting Efforts

Homeowners insurance often covers water damage resulting from efforts to extinguish a fire in the home. This can include damage from fire hoses or sprinkler systems.

Accidental Discharge

Accidental water discharge during home renovations or improvements may be covered under homeowners insurance. However, there must be plain evidence that the discharge was accidental and not the result of negligence.

Theft or Vandalism

Your policy will most likely include damage to your plumbing system or appliances at the hands of thieves or vandals. This coverage extends to repairing the plumbing and addressing the damage itself.

It's important to remember that the specifics of coverage can vary based on your homeowner's policy, the cause of the water damage, and any additional endorsements or exclusions. Review your policy thoroughly, and if you have any doubts or questions, consult your insurance provider to clarify the extent of your protection.

When Is Water Damage Not Covered by Insurance?

While homeowners insurance provides coverage for water damage under many circumstances, it may not apply in all cases. It's crucial to understand these exclusions to avoid unexpected costs.

Here are some situations where a standard homeowners insurance policy may not be much help in dealing with the aftermath of water damage.

When Is Water Damage Not Covered by Insurance?

Flood Damage

Standard homeowners insurance doesn't cover flood damage. You'll need to purchase flood insurance, which is typically provided through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), to safeguard your home against flooding caused by heavy rains, storm surges, or overflowing rivers.

Gradual Damage

Most homeowners insurance policies cover sudden and accidental water damage but not gradual damage caused by long-term issues like persistent leaks or seepage. Regular maintenance and timely repairs can prevent gradual damage — and potential claim denials.

Negligence

If your insurer determines that water damage resulted from neglecting necessary home maintenance, like failing to fix a known leak, they may deny your claim. Again, proactive maintenance is key to avoiding this issue.

Sewer and Drain Backups

While water backup coverage is available, it's not always included in standard policies. You may need to purchase it separately to ensure protection against sewer or drain backups.

Excluded Perils

Certain situations, like damage caused by earthquakes or maintenance-related actions, are typically excluded. Review your policy to understand the specific perils covered and consider additional coverage if needed.

High-Risk Areas

In some cases, insurers may limit coverage or require additional premiums for homes in high-risk areas, such as coastal regions prone to hurricanes or areas susceptible to frequent flooding. Review and update your policy as needed to guarantee adequate protection in such regions.

Examples of High-Risk Areas in Texas

Because of its size and varied climate, Texas contains many high-risk areas for water-related damage. Some of these areas include:

  • Coastal Regions: Coastal areas along the Gulf of Mexico like Houston and Galveston are at high risk for hurricane-related flooding, storm surges, and heavy rainfall.
  • Floodplains: Communities located near rivers and floodplains, like those along the Brazos River, Colorado River, and Rio Grande, are susceptible to flooding during heavy rain events.
  • Low-Lying Areas: Low-lying regions, including parts of Houston, are prone to flooding, especially during intense rainfall and hurricanes.
  • Flash Flood Zones: Some areas in central Texas, like Austin and San Antonio, are prone to flash floods due to their geography and vulnerability to heavy thunderstorms.
  • Tornado Alley: Northern Texas, including cities like Dallas and Fort Worth, falls within the so-called "Tornado Alley" and can experience severe weather events leading to water damage.
  • Drought-Prone Areas: Certain parts of West Texas are susceptible to drought conditions, which can lead to soil erosion and subsequent flash flooding when heavy rains do occur.

Residents in these areas need to be aware of their specific risks and purchase additional coverage, such as flood insurance, to protect their homes and belongings.

What About Mold Damage?

What About Mold Damage?

Mold damage is a common concern when dealing with water damage. However, coverage for mold remediation can be somewhat complicated and may vary depending on your insurance policy. Here's a closer look at mold damage and its status in most homeowners insurance plans.

Mold Resulting From Covered Perils

Most homeowners insurance policies cover mold damage resulting directly from covered perils. For example, if your policy covers water damage from a burst pipe, it should also cover mold remediation if mold develops as a result of the moisture.

Limits on Mold Coverage

Insurance companies often impose limits on the amount they'll pay for mold remediation. These limits can vary significantly, so it's necessary to review your policy to understand the extent of your coverage.

Cause Matters

The key factor in mold coverage is the cause. If it results from a sudden accidental event covered by your policy, like a burst pipe, you're more likely to be covered. However, if it develops due to neglect, maintenance issues, or long-term water seepage, coverage may be limited or denied outright.

Mold Endorsements

Some insurance providers offer mold endorsements or riders that you can add to your policy for additional mold coverage. These endorsements may provide more extensive coverage for mold damage.

Exclusions

Some policies contain specific mold exclusions, especially in regions prone to such issues. If that's the case, you might not be covered for mold damage unless you purchase a separate mold endorsement.

If you have mold damage and are unsure whether remediation is included in your policy, contact your insurer to start the claims process and receive guidance on how to proceed.

Filing a Water Damage Claim: Step-by-Step Guide

Filing a Water Damage Claim: Step-by-Step Guide

Here are the steps you'll need to take to file a water damage claim with your insurer:

1. Assess the Situation

Before anything else, ensure your safety and that of your family. If the water damage is due to a burst pipe or flooding, shut off the water supply or address the source of the issue, assuming it's safe to do so.

2. Contact Your Insurance Company

Report the incident to your insurance company as soon as possible. You'll need to provide a few essential details, such as your policy number, contact information, and a brief description of the damage.

3. Document the Damage

Take clear photos and videos of the water damage to provide visual evidence. Document all affected areas and belongings, as well as any potential hazards.

4. Mitigate Further Damage

Take reasonable steps to prevent additional damage, such as placing tarps over roof leaks, shutting off electricity if water poses a threat, or arranging temporary repairs for burst pipes. Your insurance may cover these costs.

5. Review Your Policy

Carefully review your insurance policy to understand your coverage in detail. Check for specifics related to water damage, including coverage limits, deductibles, and exclusions.

6. Contact an Adjuster

If your insurance policy covers water damage, your insurance company will likely assign an adjuster to assess the extent of the damage. Do your best to cooperate fully during this process.

7. Complete a Claim Form

Your insurance company will require you to complete a claim form. Provide accurate information about the damage, its cause, and any expenses incurred.

8. Provide Documentation

Gather and submit the necessary supporting documentation, including photos, videos, receipts for repairs or replacements, and any communication with the insurance company.

9. Stay Organized

Maintain a record of all communication with your insurance company, including dates, names of representatives, and the content of conversations. This information will prove valuable if you need to refer to it later.

10. Be Patient

The claims process can take a while, especially if the damage is extensive. Follow up with your insurance company as needed, but give them time to assess and process your claim.

11. Review the Settlement

Once your claim has been processed, carefully review the settlement offer to confirm that it adequately covers your losses. If you have concerns, consult an attorney experienced in water damage claims.

12. Seek Legal Assistance

If your claim is denied or you encounter difficulties with your insurer, it’s wise to work with an experienced attorney. A skilled lawyer can help you navigate a complex claim, explain the relevant insurance laws, and advocate for your rights.

By following these steps and familiarizing yourself with the particulars of your insurance coverage, you can increase the likelihood of a successful water damage insurance claim.

Don't Let Water Damage Wreak Havoc on Your Home

Homeowners insurance can be a crucial lifeline following sudden accidental events like burst pipes, wind-driven rain, or appliance malfunctions. However, it's essential to understand your policy and its limitations, especially regarding coverage for flooding, gradual damage, or homeowner negligence.

If you need assistance, reach out to the skilled insurance claim lawyers at Omar Ochoa Law Firm. With a proven track record of aiding clients across Texas, including McAllen, Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio, we have the knowledge and resources to help you file a successful claim and make the most of your coverage.

Contact us today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation and secure the peace of mind you deserve.

Omar Ochoa

Omar Ochoa has been nationally recognized as one of the best young trial lawyers in the country. He's represented clients in federal and state courts and arbitrations throughout the United States and internationally. He is highly experienced in a wide range of complex litigation and has handled a variety of cases. He has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for clients of all types — from individuals to mid-sized business owners to multi-national companies.

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