Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Leaks?

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Leaking water is one of the most frustrating things you can find inside your home. Not only are water leaks annoying, but they’re usually associated with costly repairs. While many water leaks result due to a prolonged issue, some are sudden.

Whether or not the water leak occurred suddenly and unexpectedly is directly correlated with whether or not you receive coverage for the damage under your homeowners insurance policy. Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of water leaks and whether or not they’re covered by your policy.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Leaks?

Homeowners insurance will only cover water leaks if they occurred suddenly and unexpectedly due to a covered peril, such as a tree falling on your roof during a rainstorm. Your policy likely won’t cover any leaks that persisted over time or that were caused by general wear and tear.

If the water leak is covered, your policy will pay to repair your home, any personal belongings that were affected and may even reimburse you for some expenses if the leak caused you to temporarily move out while your house is being repaired or rebuilt.

If you spot a water leak in your home, you’ll need to report it to your insurer immediately. The longer you wait, the more damage occurs, and your insurer could even deny your water leak insurance claim altogether. If your claim is covered, you’ll enjoy the following three benefits from your policy.

Dwelling Coverage

The most important piece of your homeowners insurance policy is the dwelling coverage. This portion of your policy helps pay to repair or replace the structural integrity of your home. Things like the roof, plumbing and HVAC systems, walls and floors all enjoy coverage under this portion.

The dwelling coverage amount on your policy should match the value of your home. So a home worth $300,000 should have at least $300,000 worth of dwelling coverage to sufficiently protect it. Those homeowners with less dwelling coverage may be subject to insurance-to-value regulations and could even be dropped by their insurer.

Personal Property Coverage

The next portion of your policy that could kick in due to covered water leaks is the personal property portion. This is designed to reimburse you for any personal belongings that sustain water damage due to the leak.

These are things like clothes, electronics, appliances and furniture. They’ll either get reimbursed for their actual cash value or replacement cost, the former valuing the depreciated amount. The easiest way to figure out how much coverage you need is to create a home contents list that details how much you paid for each item.

Loss of Use Coverage

The final form of coverage you’ll have for water leaks is called loss of use. If the water leak is so bad that it forces you to temporarily move out of your house while it’s being repaired, this coverage will kick in. It can pay for additional living expenses, like a hotel or rental home of equivalent value, moving expenses and temporary storage fees.

What Determines Coverage?

You’ll only receive coverage for leaks if they occurred due to a covered peril. Those are things like a hurricane, snowstorm, heavy rainstorm, tornado or house fire. So you’d likely be covered if a heavy windstorm knocks a tree on your roof and allows rain to seep into your home.

You’re likely never covered if the water leak is due to general wear and tear, negligence or lack of upkeep on your behalf, pest damage or if it simply got worse over time. So you wouldn’t be covered if your 20-year-old roof suddenly springs a leak because it’s missing a shingle.

There are many forms of leaking that could occur in your house. While you could be covered when leaks arise from almost any part of your home, but that coverage would still only kick in if it was due to a covered peril. Let’s take a look.

HVAC & Plumbing Leaks

If your HVAC or plumbing systems simply begin leaking on their own, you’re probably not covered for any water damage that arises. However, if a storm caused an electrical surge to the systems, creating a backup and expulsion of water, you’d probably be covered.

It’s important to remember that your home’s systems are only covered due to covered perils, and they’ll never be covered due to manufacturer issues, lack of maintenance or the unit simply getting old and breaking.

Foundation Leaks

Coverage for a foundation leak is a tricky topic. They can be extremely costly and result in your entire home having to be rebuilt. Foundation leaks will be covered if the leak was caused by a covered peril and spotted quickly, which may be the toughest part.

Leaks caused by ground movements like earthquakes and sinkholes are likely not covered by your policy. That’s tricky because foundational damage typically occurs due to those issues. Your policy will also never cover foundation leaks that are caused by old age of your home.

Slab Leaks

While the terms slab and foundation can be used interchangeably, they can be different in some instances. But their coverage remains the same. Slab leaks will be covered if the cause was due to a covered peril. They’ll never be covered if it was due to lack of maintenance or wear and tear.

Ceiling & Roof Leaks

If your roof begins to leak, there’s a good chance your ceiling will leak as well. Although those homeowners with an attic may have some delay in spotting said ceiling leak. Ceiling and roof leaks are covered by homeowners insurance if the damage was originally caused by a covered peril.

So a tree crashing into your home’s roof, causing rainwater to leak through the interior ceiling of your home would likely be covered. But an outdated roof that simply starts letting rain into your home probably won’t be covered.

It’s important to note that you need to spot celing leaks as soon as possible. If your roof has been leaking for some time and you wait to contact your insurer until a good-sized water spot appears in your ceiling, your insurer could deny your claim due to negligence that you’ve let the problem persist.

Leaking Pipes

Leaking pipes are only covered if the leak was due to a covered peril, such as the pipes freezing, expanding and bursting. Pipes that break due to old age or improper care and cause leaks will likely not be covered by your policy.

If the pipe backed up and started leaking due to external factors like a clogged sewage system, the only way you’ll receive coverage is if you have a water backup endorsement added to your policy. This is one of the most common causes of leaking pipes, too.

Bathtub Leaks

Bathtub leaks can be a conundrum. They’re nearly never covered because perils would likely do more damage to your home before they make it to the bathtub. A drain backup caused by external factors would only be covered if you have water backup coverage added to your policy. But leaks due to general use are never covered.

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The editorial content on Clovered’s website is meant to be informational material and should not be considered legal advice.

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