Water damage is one of the leading causes of home insurance claims but do you really understand your insurance policy? For example, do you know if:
- a sewer backup is covered by home insurance?
- a leaking toilet is covered by insurance?
- water damage from a leaking roof is covered by insurance?
The answer to whether these are covered or not depends on:
- the source of the damage
- the type of policy you have
- if the water damage is accidental and sudden or gradual.
Types of Water Damage
Standard homeowner policy – what’s covered?
If water damage is sudden and accidental, there’s a good chance you are covered by most standard home insurance policies. Some basic water damage coverage is included in a standard home policy while other sources of damage might not be covered unless you add an endorsement to your policy. A standard homeowner policy will include:
- Damages caused by the weight of ice, snow or sleet. This can cause roof collapse or water damage, among other problems
- Discharge and overflow of water from a plumbing fixture or system, even if it is an accident
- Tearing apart, cracking, burning or bulging of a steam or hot water heating system.
- Sudden and accidental bursting of plumbing pipes and appliances
- Freezing of plumbing and pipes*.
* Some policies may contain exclusions for coverage of freezing of pipes if you left your home unheated during the heating season or if you did not shut off the water when you went away. These types of clauses are specific to various insurance companies so just be sure and ask before you plan to be away from your home for any length of time.
Standard homeowner policy – what’s NOT covered?
- Water that backs up through sewers
- A widespread flood is generally not covered by home insurance policies
- Gradual damage resulting from infiltration or seepage even if the owner was unaware such as
- Plumbing, faucets or pipes leaking over time causing damage to the walls, ceilings or floors
- Water damage caused by seepage coming in from cracks in the foundation, or at the exterior of the house allowing water to enter your home
- Flashing, tiles, shingles or deteriorating parts on the roof that indicated signs of needed repair
- Mould, rot or corrosion
Know your coverage options
You can add additional coverage, or endorsements, for certain risks that are not automatically included under your policy. The most popular are those for sewer backup, water seepage and for swimming pools and spas.
Sewer or Septic Back-up – Coverage in the event water back up from the sewer or septic system and flows into your home. More about water damage types
Water and Sewer Lines – Coverage to repair or replace your water service line and/or sewer line due to a loss resulting from a leak, break, tear, rupture or collapse of the line. Why you need it
Overland Water – Coverage for water damage caused by lake/river overflow, heavy rain or rapid snowmelt that enters your home from a point at or above ground surface
Above ground water – Optional coverage for damage caused by water entering your home suddenly and accidentally through the roof or perhaps an open window above the ground (ex. Ice damming, heavy rain or melting snow entering through the roof shingles for example).
Ground Water – Optional coverage for damage caused by water entering your home suddenly and accidentally through a basement wall, foundation or floor at ground level or below ground level (ex. Heavy rain, melting snow, water from a gutter downspout)
Swimming Pool and Spa – coverage for the above-ground or in-ground pool and its equipment. May also cover the deck or platform to which it is affixed and which is not attached to your home.