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November 9, 2023

Does insurance cover water damage?

Water damage is one of the most common reasons for homeowners to make an insurance claim. But does homeowner's insurance typically cover water damage? The answer depends on the specific policy and the cause of the damage.

To ensure you’re covered for water damage due to water backup, sewer backup, and sump pump failure, it is vital to speak with your insurance agent. They can review your current homeowner's insurance coverage and help you purchase any necessary endorsements to provide appropriate coverage.

What causes water damage?

Another cause of water damage that homeowners may encounter is a malfunctioning sump pump. Sump pumps are designed to pump water out of a basement or crawl space, preventing water damage. However, water can flood the home if the sump pump fails. Some homeowners insurance policies may help cover sump pump failures, but it isn’t typically included in a standard policy.

Standard homeowners insurance policies do not typically cover these types of damage. Common reasons for water backups may include the following:

  • Tree roots—When searching for moisture underground, tree roots can enter older or cracked pipes, slowly causing extensive damage or blockages.
  • Aging plumbing systems—As plumbing systems age, they become more susceptible to backups and other problems. Leaky or burst pipes and faulty plumbing fixtures can also cause water damage.
  • Combined pipelines—If your city combines sewer and storm drainage lines, you may experience issues during a storm. Heavy rains can overwhelm the system and create water backup problems in your home.
  • Blockages in the sanitary main—City sewers can also become blocked over time, leading to water backing up into your home.
  • Sump pump failure—A malfunctioning or non-working sump pump could cause extensive damage to your home. Note that while a water backup endorsement may pay for damage caused by sump pump failure, it may not cover the cost of replacing the pump itself.
  • Weather-related issues—Heavy rain, floods, hurricanes, and snowstorms can also cause water damage in a home. Water can enter a home through roof leaks, foundation cracks, or flooding from nearby bodies of water.
  • Appliance malfunctions—Faulty parts, wear and tear, or poor maintenance can cause serious water damage. Dishwashers, refrigerators, washing machines, and water heaters can cause water damage in a home.

Sewer and drain backups cause devastating household damage

Water damage from sewer and drain backups is a common cause of property damage. Water damage and freezing accounted for 19.9% of home insurance claims nationwide in 2020. The average homeowner's insurance claim payout for water damage was $11,650 between 2016 and 2020.

How to help prevent water damage

The following steps can be taken to help prevent water damage:

  • Keep gutters and downspouts clean and free of debris to ensure that rainwater is properly directed away from the foundation of the home.
  • Grade the soil around the foundation to help prevent water from pooling near the home, which can lead to leaks and water damage.
  • Regularly maintain plumbing and sewer lines by having a plumber perform routine inspections to identify potential issues and clear out any blockages.
  • Avoid flushing inappropriate items down the toilet or pouring grease down the sink, as these can lead to clogs and backups.
  • Install a sump pump or replace an aging sump pump to help prevent basement flooding. Regular testing and maintenance of the sump pump is important to ensure it functions properly.

Water damage may cause mold damage

Household water damage can lead to mold growth, which can cause serious health problems, especially for people with allergies or weakened immune systems. Mold can grow within 24 to 48 hours of water damage and spread quickly throughout a home.

The cost of mold remediation can be high, ranging from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the extent of the damage. Unfortunately, mold damage is often not covered by a typical homeowners insurance policy unless caused by a covered peril, such as a burst pipe or accidental overflow of a plumbing fixture.

Homeowners may need additional coverage or endorsements to ensure appropriate coverage for water and sewer backup-related mold damage.

How to get coverage for water backup

Homeowners can purchase an endorsement that provides water and sewer backup coverage. It’s essential to check with your insurance agent to ensure that you have water backup coverage before a damage-causing incident. The cost of water backup endorsements varies based on the level of coverage and your specific policy.


Make sure you’re covered

Reviewing your policy with your agent and purchasing any necessary endorsements for water backup is crucial to ensure you’re covered in a water damage incident. Contact Christensen Group Insurance today to learn more about your current homeowner's policy coverage and available endorsements.

© 2023 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved. This Know Your Insurance document is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice.

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