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Does my insurance cover water damage?

Given that water damage is one of the most common causes of home insurance claims, it is no wonder people have a lot of questions about water damage. The foremost regards what is covered by their home insurance – and what isn’t. Your home insurance policy will typically define differential coverage, or exclude altogether, water damage based on the cause/type of the water damage. The 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, even if it is an accident.
  • Tearing apart, cracking, burning or bulging of a steam or hot water heating system.
  • Freezing of plumbing and pipes.
However, if you opted for the least expensive type of policy, or if you’re restricted to a policy like an HO-1 or HO-8, you might have very limited coverage. Unlike the other standard policies, these cover a very limited set of perils and will not normally include the items listed above.
In addition to the cause of the water damage, an additional issue is whether the source of the damage is accidental and sudden, or gradual – Gradual damage water damage is not usually covered, so although your policy might have water damage coverages, if the reason for the damage is defined by the inspector as not being sudden and accidental, then you are likely to be denied in a claim. That is why it is critically important to contact a professional as soon as you notice any damage, so that the inspection will be more likely to define the damage as sudden and accidental.
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