Homeowners insurance is a type of insurance coverage that applies to houses when buyers purchase them. This type of insurance is typically required by mortgage lenders and helps the buyer protect the property against a variety of damages, such as fire and theft, which are often required parts of the policy. Homeowners insurance is customizable within limits, but some events are treated warily by insurance companies and may leave homeowners wondering whether they should pursue claims. When it comes to rain damage, the answer is usually "yes," although the details still matter.
In a homeowners insurance policy, events the policy will pay for are known as covered perils. An event needs to meet some qualifications to be a covered peril. For instance, it must be unexpected and generally unpreventable. If a homeowner could see the event coming and could have taken steps to reduce damage or remove the threat, the insurance company will not pay for damages. Then there are specific events that cause so much damage that insurers do not include them in policies, such as floods and earthquakes.
Water damage should not be confused with flood damage. Rain does not immediately cause a flood and the damage it causes happens when it first comes in contact with the house. This allows insurance companies to make a simple rule: if the water causes damage before it makes it to the ground, then it falls under homeowners insurance and the damages will be covered. Hard rain can break windows or damage rooftops, and these things will be covered. Homeowners should note that hurricanes, which can also cause damage, are not often covered under their policies.
Flood damage is damage related to water that occurs when the water builds up from the ground. If the rain falls elsewhere and swells rivers until the base levels of the house are exposed to water, the insurance company will not cover it under homeowners insurance. Flood insurance is a separate, government-subsidized policy. The only possible exception is a broken pipe that floods the internal walls or floors of the house. Broken pipes usually fall under covered perils.
There may be steps that homeowners can take to prevent rain damage to their homes. Sometimes homeowners can install gutters, reshingle rooftops or repair windows to help prevent or reduce rainwater damage. If these repairs are possible, the insurance company may require that homeowners make them before agreeing to cover any damage associated with rain.