With all of the weather-related damage we’ve seen from heavy rains over the last several days, this is a good time to review what is and is not covered by insurance when it comes to water damage claims.
This column was written by Bob Freitag of AmeriClaims, Inc., a firm of public insurance adjusters in Indian Trail, North Carolina that represents individuals, organizations, and businesses after a property disaster
We get calls regularly from customers that have some type of water damage to their property and many times, these claims have been denied by their insurance companies. In some instances we can get these denials overturned, however, there are many water damage claims that simply are not covered.
Insurance policies are designed to cover sudden and accidental events, and not cover repeated ongoing damage that occurs over weeks, months or years. The same holds true for water damage claims. Leaky pipes, leaky roofs and wind-driven rain are all examples of repeated damages and are not due to a sudden and accidental event.
Many insurance policies state that for water penetration from the outside, to cause damage on the inside, the exterior of the property must have sustained some type of damage first. Examples would be: wind blows shingles off and rain penetrates the roof; a tree falls on a roof and then rain penetrates the opening; a window is blown out and then rain enters the broken window. All of these water damage claims would be covered. However, an old leaky roof that has allowed water to seep in every time it rains is not going to be covered.
Examples of common covered water damage claims we see are:
Icemaker line breaks and floods house.
Toilet or washing machine line breaks and floods house.
Freezing pipes burst and floods home.
Pipe in slab breaks and floods house.
Hot water heater bursts and floods home.
Hail or wind damaged roof allows water in.
Common excluded claims for water damage we see are:
Pipe under sink leaking for months and rots out cabinets.
Shower pan leaking for extended period and rots out floor.
Roof or siding of home old and worn out and allows water in when it rains.
Leaking pipe in crawl space rots out joists.
AC units or hot water heater with slow leaks that cause water damage.
As you can see, ongoing water leaks are not intended to be covered by insurance; however, sudden and accidental water damage is usually covered. Keep in mind that “flooding” of a property from rain or lakes and creeks, will not be covered unless you have purchased a separate flood policy.