This article is so important that I wanted to send it again. The exclusion sections of your policies are, arguably, the most important part of them. Why? Because that’s where you find what’s NOT covered. And that means YOU retain the risk of loss for those conditions. Uh-oh.
In your home policy, one of the most important exclusions involves water damage. There are lots of ways water can damage your home. Some of them are covered, and some aren’t. Here are some examples that ARE covered…
- A thunderstorm blows off a section of your roof allowing the rain to come in. The water damages your ceiling, walls, furniture and flooring. That water damage IS covered.
- A pipe burst behind the wall in your bathroom. The water damages the wall, the ceiling below and rips onto your furniture. That water damage IS covered.
When you think about the examples above, you’ll realize that something happened to your house first, which then led to the water damage. Those causes of loss (called the “proximate cause” in insurance language) – wind and a burst pipe in my examples – are covered by your home policy. So, the water damage that ensues is also covered. That’s how it works.
So, when is water damage NOT covered? Plainly stated…when the water that causes the damage comes from the surface of the ground…from underground…or from a sewer or drain backup the resulting damage is NOT covered by a standard home policy.
Surface water is water that is laying on the ground or flowing across it. Your home policy will not pay for damage caused by surface water. It doesn’t matter where that water came from. It could come from an overflowing creek or river, a standing pool of water due to hard rains, runoff from a poorly designed swale, or whatever. If the water is on the ground and damages your home, your home policy excludes that damage.
Also, the damage caused by the spray that comes off such surface water has a lot of dirt in it doesn’t change anything. Damage caused by mudflow is not covered in your home policy.
Water below the surface of the ground can seep into your home or pool. It can crack sidewalks, vault driveways and crack foundations. None of this damage is covered, either.
Backup of Sewers & Drains And Sump Pump Overflow
Damage from these sources of water is not covered, either.
Can I Get Protection For Water Damage That Is Excluded By My Home Policy?
Yes, you can…except for underground water. Nobody will insure you for underground water damage, but you can insure against damage caused by surface water, mudflow, sewer or drain backup and sump pump overflow.
Protection For Surface Water Damage
To protect yourself for damage caused by surface water you need a flood policy. Now, don’t let the word “flood” fool you. A flood policy covers “unusual and rapid accumulation or runs off of surface water from any source.”(emphasis mine) For insurance purposes, a “flood” is not limited to overflowing rivers and streams.
However, a flood policy contains its own exclusions! The most important to our discussion are…
- The accumulation of water must be “unusual and rapid.” Therefore, if your yard pools with water every time it rains, that’s not unusual. And it’s not covered.
- The “flooding” conditions must affect two or more acres of normally dry land or two or more properties (including yours).
So, even if you have a flood policy, if the flooding condition is isolated to your property and covers less than two acres, the resulting water damage is not covered.
Protection For Sewer & Drain Backup And Sump Pump Overflow
You can add this protection to your policy if you want it. There are limits and exclusions, as always. So, discuss it fully with an agent at the Gannon Agency to see if it’s right for you.
This is especially important protection if you have a finished basement. If your sump pump fails – and water damages your flooring, furniture, etc. – that damage is excluded by your standard home policy. But it’s covered when you add the appropriate endorsement. Talk to one of the agents at the Gannon Agency.
What Should I Do?
Water may be essential to life, but it’s the greatest enemy of homes and property!
The most important thing you can do is to first understand that water damage, as I explained it above, is not covered by your home policy.
Therefore, be sure to do everything you can to maintain your property to keep water from pooling and/or flowing onto it. Because, in the end, you’re probably going to be on your own if your home suffers and damage.
And, finally, check with the Gannon Agency on whether a flood policy or an endorsement for sewer & drain backup and sump pump overflow, would benefit you. We’ll discuss with you as to what’s available and what’s appropriate.
Remember, no insurance policy “covers everything.” Your home policy involves more than 39 decisions and options that impact how, and if, your claims will be paid! Yes…more than 3 dozen!!!
Protecting against water damage requires you to make some of those decisions and we’re here to help you do just that.
Thanks for your business!