The answer to the question does homeowner insurance cover water leaks, is yes and no. Many people think that leaky pipes are covered, but in actuality, they are not. It is easy to be confused by this. Of course, many people who have had water leaks in their homes have had successful insurance claim payouts.
It turns out, the thing that determines whether you will have coverage for a water leak boils down to how the leak occurred and whether there is any damage. In other words, HOW “does homeowner insurance cover water leaks?” For example, it is possible to have a water leak from a pipe under your house’s foundation. But, did the leak cause damage to your house? Well sometimes it does, and if it can be documented, then coverage will be opened for the damaged parts of your property. However, if you discover you have a water leak from a pipe under the slab of your house, but there is no resulting damage, then no matter how much water is leaking, there will be no coverage. You must have damage caused by the water leak. It must be damage, and it must be something that can be documented.
So, what do you have to see to document actual water damage? Here is a shortlist which applies to most materials, including cabinetry, drywall, floor, paint, etc.
If you can put a descriptive word to the material that has been touched by water, then it probably is damaged.
I can’t see any damage!
If you have a water leak but cannot find the damage, then your claim is likely going to see some resistance going forward. If you are unsure, please let us have a look. As mentioned all over this website, we are happy to inspect for free. We have sophisticated thermal imaging equipment which oftentimes can prove the damage that you cannot see with your naked eye. Yes, very often, we can find where the water leak is, and what it has affected.
“Someone told me that my leaking pipe is not covered?”
This is true. The actual pipe which leaked is not covered under your policy. It is the same for a leaking water heater or leaking air conditioner, or leaking refrigerator. Yes, if there is any damage caused by these leaks, you should have coverage for the damage, but the actual leaking water heater or air conditioner, or refrigerator is not covered. Your insurance company is only interested in the resulting damage caused by these types of leaks.
“Is there an exception to this rule?”
Yes, there is. Let’s say that some outside force caused damage to a pipe causing it to leak. As an example, what if it was very windy outside and a tree hit your house, or let’s say some large object (like a vehicle) crashed into your house and broke a pipe in a wall. In this case, since the broken pipe was caused by an outside force or event, any resulting damage to the property unless specifically excluded including plumbing itself, will be covered. This makes sense actually the more you think about it. Items in your house like the HVAC (air conditioner), plumbing, and water heater are items that can suddenly fail on their own. There was no sudden outside force causing damage to these items making them leak. Because of this, there is no coverage for the item that leaked, only the damage it caused.
“What about wind damage to my roof which caused water damage to the inside of my house?”
So here is another great example of leaks that are covered. Since there was an outside force, WIND, causing damage to the roof, then the roof damage is covered AND and ensuing damage from water intrusion is covered as well.
“What about roof leaks in my house with no known cause?”
Let’s say you have a roof that started leaking, but there were no strong winds (that you can recall), or anything that specifically happened to your roof to cause it to leak. This happens all the time, especially with old roofs. Well, your insurance company likely wrote something into your policy which excludes coverage for these types of water leaks. They want to see an opening in the roof (which could only be caused by an outside event) in order to apply coverage. Since your policy is going to exclude seepage of water into your house, they feel that the only way to apply coverage to your claim would be to prove the damage was caused by an outside force, thus some event that has left an opening in your roof.
The same line of thinking would apply to water coming in through an outside wall every time it rained. Water is not supposed to enter your house when it rains. The only explanation would be seepage, which as previously mentioned, your insurance company will try to deny coverage for because there is an exclusion for it. However, if you had some type of event which could have damaged the wall and resulted in water entering your house, you would have an easier time with your insurance company. If you are unsure, please give FAPA a call at 954.659.8333, and we will come for a free inspection.