Water damage is one of the most common types of property insurance claims. Most standard homeowners insurance policies exclude certain water damage types like flooding or sewage backup, there is still coverage for other water-related perils like a burst pipe. Policyholders with both dwelling and personal property coverage should be protected against water-related damages.
Merlin Law Group has represented many policyholders with water damage claims to their homes and businesses. As The Policyholder’s Advocate™, we are committed to helping you obtain justice so that you can get back on the path toward recovery.
Water Damage FAQs
Our Water Claim Attorneys Are Here To Answer Your Questions
Damage from water and damage from flooding fall under two different forms of coverage in an insurance policy. The former is typically included in standard homeowners insurance policies while the latter falls under its own flood insurance policy from a separate insurer.
FEMA defines flooding as:
“A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of 2 or more acres of normally dry land area or of 2 or more properties (one of which is the policyholder’s) from:
- Overflow of inland or tidal waves; or
- Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source; or
- Mudflow; or
- A collapse of subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water because of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that results in a flood as defined above.”
In most states, flood damage is excluded from a standard homeowners insurance policy. You will be required to obtain flood coverage through a public entity such as the National Flood Insurance Program or FEMA. You can alternatively obtain flood coverage through an authorized private carrier.
Most policies will not provide coverage for damage because of a sewer or drain backup or a failed sump pump. Your policy may include added endorsements that allot coverage for sewer, drain, or sump pump backups up to a limited amount of money. It is important to read through your policy to determine the scope of your water damage coverage and any possible exclusions that may exist. Another option is to purchase a rider for sewer backup damage.
Anti-concurrent clauses prohibit recovery when a covered peril and non-covered peril combine to cause a loss. For example, if your home sustains wind (covered) and flooding (non-covered) damage due to a hurricane, your insurer will deny your claim regardless of the existing wind coverage. Be sure to read through your policy to determine whether there are any of these clauses.
Water that accidentally discharges from a broken appliance may be covered under your homeowners insurance policy. Frozen pipes may also fall under your policy’s coverage, but there are often conditions attached such as maintaining heat in your home or properly winterizing your home.
A water exclusion clause restricts certain forms of water damage from being covered under an insurance policy. These clauses limit the water-related claims an insured can successfully make. Damage caused by flooding, standing water, groundwater, and drain or sewage backup typically fall under exclusion clauses.
Damage from snow, collapsed roofs from ice dams, and wind-driven rain may potentially be covered if the damage is proven to be a cause of a covered peril or weather condition.
- Indicate any urgent repairs needed at your property. Water can leave your home susceptible to further damage if not properly dealt with. Be sure to document any expenses incurred from temporary repairs.
- Take photographs of any damage in its original state. This information is helpful toward filing a successful claim.
- Consider hiring a public adjuster or damage assessment expert to assess the conditions of the damage. The insurer will likely send out their own adjuster, but it can be helpful to have an independent appraisal.
- Be aware that this type of damage can lead to subsequent damages in the form of weakened doors, walls, windows, appliances, and other structural issues.
Common Problems with Water Damage
Mold — A common aftereffect of water damage that can lead to further damage to both the property and any of its inhabitants. We recommend making the necessary repairs as quickly as possible to avoid any potential health risks. If mold is determined to be a result of neglect or gradual deterioration, your insurer will likely not cover any damage associated with it.
Decay — Relates to the breakdown of the quality of an object. In this case, foundational materials can decay as a result of water damage. This decay could attract other issues like termites and carpenter ants, thus creating more damage to your property.
Roof Collapse — For those in regions with snowfall, there is an increased risk of roof collapse due to the weight of snow. Snow is made up of water and one inch of water weighs approximately 5.2 pounds per square foot. Your roof becomes increasingly prone to collapse as more weight accumulates on top.
Ice Dams — Another potential source for roof damage and is caused when the warm air that circulates through a house meets the ice and snow on a roof causing the bottom layer to melt. Water then flows toward the edge of the roof, an area often poorly supported and without warm air underneath it. This water eventually freezes at the edge and the continued water flow will work its way under your roof shingles. From here the overflow water trickles down into your ceiling and potentially your home.
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