Does Home Insurance Cover Water Damage?

by Julie McMurchie ; Updated July 27, 2017

Water damage caused by appliance malfunctions, plumbing problems and other household events may be covered by a home insurance policy. But homeowners should be aware of some exclusions.

Damage

Water damage caused by appliance malfunctions are typically covered under a standard homeowner's policy, provided there is some evidence of damage to the unit. Hot water heaters, dishwashers, air conditioners and washing machines are common causes of water damage considered to be unforeseen, and therefore covered, under most policies.

What's Covered

Damage to the structure and contents is typically covered; however, the appliance itself is not usually included in the policy. If damage has occurred because an appliance is merely worn out, as opposed to one that is actually broken, the damage may not be covered under the insurance policy. Secondary damage, such as mold growth occurring from improper cleanup, is considered negligible and is usually not covered. Damage caused by a flood is not covered under most home insurance policies. According to State Farm, many homeowner's policies also exclude damage from sewer and drain backups, including toilets, sinks and shower drains. Damage from plumbing leaks may be covered, if it is a result of the water damage and not from a line break. Damage caused by burst pipes may be covered, but mold growth caused by the water damage will not.

Renters

A landlord’s home insurance policy will cover water damage to the structure, but not the renter’s contents. Renters can protect their possessions with rental insurance. Be sure water damage is specifically covered in the policy, and be aware there are exclusions that may apply.

Considerations

Maintaining appliances in proper working order, placing appliances in areas that will limit damage in the event of a malfunction and replacing old appliances can help protect the homeowner. Homeowners should also know where the main water shut-off valve is and how to use it.

About the Author

Julie McMurchie has been writing family-related articles since 1990. Her work has appeared in "The Pony Express" and "California Kids Magazine." She studied composition and creative writing at Riverside Community College.