Is water damage covered by my home insurance?
Imagine this: It’s a beautiful Saturday and you’ve recently moved into the home you purchased with your partner and are finally ready to host your first dinner party in your new home. You’ve got the grill ready, the wine is chilled, the appetizers are in the oven and the salads are in the fridge. Your guests start arriving and compliment you on your new home. You’re asked for a tour, and you happily oblige. Just as you’re touring the living room, you hear a clanking coming from downstairs but don’t think anything of it. Just as you and your guests are about to step down to the basement, you hear the sound of rushing water. Your heart sinks to your stomach as you realize the floor of the basement is soaked with water, and that it seems to be coming directly from the guest bathroom down there. You’ve officially got a burst pipe.
Obviously, this is not an ideal situation in any scenario. That leaking water will quickly damage your floors, the wall, and anything standing in the basement, including expensive electronics, clothes, furniture, and books. Your dinner party is officially ruined, it’s time to send your guests home and call your insurance.
Accidental water damage is usually included
While it’s not always a given, most homeowners insurance do include or offer a clause for water damage, including water damage from burst pipes. Water damage is one of the most common claims made to homeowner insurers, and it’s understandable why: Water can cause a lot of damage in a short amount of time, from destroying your personal belongings to ruining your home’s floors and walls.
In Canada, most home insurance policies will cover some type of water damage, but there’s a caveat: The incident that caused the damage must be sudden and accidental.
What exactly does that mean? Well, the water damage that has been building up over weeks or even months because of a leaking pipe will not be covered by homeowners insurance. Water damage from a pipe that suddenly burst and is now rapidly filling your bathroom or kitchen with water, on the other hand, will usually be covered by insurance.
These are the kinds of water damages that are usually covered by a homeowners policy:
- Accidental leaks or overflow from household appliances, such as dishwashers or washing machines.
- Burst pipes or acute plumbing leaks. A note on this: If your pipe burst because it froze, you’re entering grey territory. If the reason for your pipe freezing and bursting is because of neglect on your part, then you’re on your own.
- Water damage resulting from efforts to extinguish a fire.
- Ice dams, meaning any ice that builds up in gutters or other areas of your home and causes damage. Again, this type of damage needs to have happened suddenly and accidentally, and not because the last time you cleaned your gutters was in 2018.
- Water damage from a roof leak, with the caveat being that the leak in the roof happened recently, such as during a storm.
Type of water damage usually not covered by homeowners insurance
Although every insurance policy is different, there are certain types of water damages that usually aren’t covered by a standard policy:
- Flooding. If you want coverage for flooding, you’re going to have to purchase additional coverage in your policy.
- Water damage that results from neglect. If a leak has slowly been filling your walls with water over the course of weeks or months, then your insurance usually won’t cover the damage since it’s not considered to be sudden and accidental. The reasoning here is that you had ample time to get the pipe fixed. The same goes for any pipes that froze because of neglect.
- Water damage from intentional acts, such as deciding it would be a fun idea to turn your basement into an underground swimming pool (we don’t know why anyone would do that, but you never know).
- Water damage from backed-up sewers or gutters. You’ll usually need to purchase additional coverage for this.
- Water damage resulting from earthquakes. For example, let’s say an earthquake nearby caused your pipes to burst and flood your home. Unfortunately, your standard homeowners insurance policy won’t cover this unless you have additional earthquake coverage.
Sometimes additional coverage is needed
If you have a swimming pool or some time of water feature in your home, such as a pond in your garden, you may need to purchase additional coverage. If you live in an area that’s prone to flooding or in an earthquake zone, purchasing additional coverage for these kinds of events is advisable. Even if your monthly premiums are higher, the money you’d spend fixing damages from flooding will hurt much more.
If you’re unsure about what is or isn’t covered by your insurance policy, don’t hesitate to call them and find out. It’s always better to know what you’re protected from ahead of time instead of getting a nasty surprise down the road.
If you’re looking to upgrade your insurance or are simply curious about how different policies stack up against each other when it comes to covering water damage, YouSet has you sorted. Simply answer a couple of questions online and instantly compare policies in a curated list we created just for you. Find the insurance that’s right for you, quickly and easily.
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