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Shut off the water before you leave.

Ask any insurance agent, and they'll have at least one story of a customer who left for a
relaxing vacation only to return to the headache of a flooded house and ruined furniture.

Don’t become another cautionary tale. Turn your water off before you leave town

Pipes that have burst, or the accidental release of water from a steam boiler, warm water tank, heating or air conditioning system, a sprinkler system or appliance, may cause extensive water harm to a home or business. Furniture, priceless possessions, and important documents may all be destroyed in the flood that ensued. Water harm may also lead to mould and mildew problems. Many insurance claims are made every year due to the harm caused by broken water pipes. Frozen pipes will crack and, after that, burst, spilling considerable amounts of water all over the floor. Corrosion: If you've old pipes, steam boiler, warm water tank, heating or air conditioning system, a sprinkler system or appliance which are eroding, there's a risk that these systems will crack and after that burst. 

Not only this implies material losses but also a long insurance claim process. This was my case last year; after I returned home from my Hawaiian vacation, I found my basement flooded in water. Luckily for me, my home insurance was able to cover the damages because it was an accidental event that resulted from a burst water pipe. But what if this was to happen to you? are you sure your standard home insurance covers all water damages?

What is covered by standard homeowners' insurance?

Normally, standard homeowner's insurance offers coverage to recover from theft, disasters, vandalism, hazards, and other accidental incidents which might have damaged your home and possessions. Most of the time, a broken structure on your house and your stolen personal items will either be recovered through payment of the exact value of your loss (not exceeding the coverage stated under your policy).
However, on some other occasions, you can be given an extra percentage of what was specified in your coverage if you possessed extended replacement cost.

Premium calculations for standard homeowner insurance are based on different coverage types: property damage, additional living expenses, personal liability, and medical payment coverage. Hence, when taking new homeowner insurance, you should be aware of what kinds of basics it covers. You should know if you need extra coverage for water damages and also which limits coverages will be the best match for you and
your property.

Would my standard homeowner insurance cover the damages caused by flood/water damage?

Yes, But only if the type of damages from water are listed from the insurance policy. However, most insurance companies do not offer water damages resulting from floods because they are not accidental, nor occur suddenly. If you intend to cover your home against flood, I recommend you opt for additional flood insurance.

What are some examples of water damage that my standard home insurance can cover?

The standard homeowner insurance will only cover the damages that exceed your deductibles. Even though not all water damages are covered under regular home insurance, there are some exceptions which we have listed below:

  • You will most likely be covered if there is an unintentional sudden overflow of water from sinks, the toilet or the bathtub
  • You can also be covered for roof damages caused by heavy rainfalls with gust. When it rains heavily, and there is a lot of wind, it can also result in a lot of damage to a building structure
  • Water accumulation in walls can also lead to mould; however, this might only be covered by your home insurance if this resulted from an incident usually covered under your home insurance.
  • You will most likely be covered when a well-maintained pipe or sewer line in your home suddenly breaks
  • During, wintertime if a pipe freezes and it was inevitable for you to stop it from happening, you might also be covered for this.

What are some water damages that my insurance might not cover?

Not all water damages would be covered by the homeowner's insurance because not all water damages result from faulty appliances, high pressure, accidental or sudden accidents. Therefore, it is vital to confirm which kinds of water damages might not be covered under my regular home insurance. Bellow, we have listed some damages that your insurance might not cover:

  • You will most likely not be covered from flooding that results from rain, soil erosion and poor soil drainage.
  • You will most likely not be covered when water leaks into your house as a result of uneven elevations on your property (which probably resulted from an unprofessional construction.)
  • If you forget to give maintenance to your plumbing systems, tanks, and toilets and they end up breaking and damaging your property, you won't be covered for the damages.
  • Similarly, if you don't give maintenance to appliances that can leak water and, as a result, mould starts accumulating over time, your insurance will most likely deny coverage.
  • As mentioned above, flooding would most likely not be covered by insurance, and this is more evident when you live in a location that is prone to floods.  

Do insurance companies sell flood insurance separately?

Yes, homeowners' insurance companies sell flood insurance separately because, most of the time, these events are a result of natural catastrophes. These natural disasters can lead to severe damage beyond your insurance plan. Therefore, we advise you to purchase extra coverage for floods if you are aware that the location where you live is prone to floods.

What are some damages that might occur due to water damages?

Are these damages always noticeable, or do they become noticeable over time?
Examples of the damages caused by water are broken windows, structures, glass, mould on the walls, floor, ceiling, electronic devices being damaged, water contamination, loss of life, and structural damages. However, these damages can either be noticed immediately or gradually with time. For example, you will probably immediately notice there is water contamination which probably resulted from a broken
sewer line.

You will also notice a bloated floor which resulted from a broken pipe. However, things like mould infestation, corrosion, discoloured tiled floors, leaking on the roof and leaking pipes are damages that happen slowly without your notice, and they might be evident when it's too late. Therefore, if you have a standard homeowner insurance cover, you should pay maximum attention to things that might gradually be damaged by water to avoid losses. Besides, some may be mistaken to be a result of negligence and poor maintenance.

How can I avoid floods/water damage in my house?

  • Make sure that you clear any sediments from your drainage system and sewer lines so that water can move smoothly without overflowing back into your house.
  • As soon as you see a sign of a leaking roof, call someone to inspect and seal any leaks to prevent further damages.
  • Seal tight any openings on the walls of your building to prevent water from coming inside your home/business.
  • Don't keep your most precious possessions on the ground so that you are sure they won't be ruined if there is a flood in your house.
  • If you live near the coastline or riverbanks, we recommend you get coverage with flood insurance.
  • Sometimes, planting plants in your garden might allow water to be drained faster and will also prevent erosion.
  • It will also help if you raise all the electric sockets and switches in your home/business higher. This might allow preventing any electrocution in flood incidents.
  • Build your home or business walls with floodproof construction technique and flood/water-resistant materials
  • Maybe you can also try building extra drainages in your home to prevent an incident if the main drainage gets blocked.

How do you claim for insurance?

As mentioned above, last year, when I returned from my 3-day vacation from Hawaii, I found my basement floors full of water. Luckily for me, the flood had resulted from a sudden broken pipe which was only one year and a half old. I knew for sure this sudden
incident wasn't a result of a lack of maintenance, so I contacted my insurance company immediately to let them about the damages that I had incurred after the pipe had burst. After the call, I also followed the following steps:

  • I recorded proof of the water damage caused by the burst pipe by taking videos and pictures.
  • Next, I drained the water and dried my floors and wet areas to prevent further damage to my furniture and floors.
  • I also made a list of the things that got damaged by the water. Here, I also included important additional details such as the prices of each item and receipts if I had them.
  • The following day, I met with the adjuster, who sent some professional people to evaluate and investigate the damages to my basement.
  • After the insurance company assessed all the water damages to my house, I waited for my claim and insurance policy to be reviewed.

Lastly, my insurance claim was luckily approved. I didn't have to worry about finding contractors to fix the damages by myself. The insurance provided me with a list of their preferred contractors, so they facilitated the process even further.

So, remember, it is crucial to know what is covered under your home insurance. More when it comes to damages related to water incidents because insurance tends to be pickier when it comes to coverages related to water damages. In order to rest assured every time you go out on a trip, make sure you shut off all your water, but most importantly, make sure you are covered against most water incidents.

Other things to consider.

Corrosion can be caused by dirt and water, which corrodes the outer metal and eventually works its way into the individual systems leaving it weakened. Aging Water Pipes, steam boiler, warm water tank, heating or air conditioning system, a sprinkler system or appliance: As these systems age, their own strength and sturdiness are diminished. They become more brittle and more predisposed towards fractures. The older the system, the greater the likelihood they'll break. Physical Damage: If a person has construction work or renovations done at home or property and a piece of equipment or tool accidentally hits a water pipe, there's a possibility the pipe could break open. 

Too Much Pressure in Pipes: If your water pump isn't functioning correctly, leading to a build of pressure inside the water pipes, it could cause the pipes to break and break. Improperly Installed Water Pipes: If pipes aren't installed properly, the result might break the pipe. Professionals will ensure that the pipes are properly installed, and the joints are tight and sealed properly. Poor Quality Pipes: If you put in pipes which are of low quality, there's a great chance that with time, they'll breakdown and burst. Defective merchandise will also result in a pipe breaking. 

Long Term Crack: If there's a small crack in the pipe that's leaking over a long period, it'll ultimately expand due to water, pressure, and corrosion. The water from the pipe will ultimately break throughout the crack leading to a burst pipe. There's no harm to the surrounding property if this leak gets ignored. The accidental release or overflow of water or steam peril from the policy states that the insurance company will pay to tear out and replace any portion of a building on the premises when required to fix the system or appliance from that water steam escaped. As we said above, the accidental release of water from any one of the aforementioned systems may cause extensive water harm to a home or business, as well as furniture, priceless possessions, and important documents that may all be destroyed in the flood that ensued.

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