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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?

Kailey Hagen
Kristi Waterworth

Our Insurance Experts

Ashley Maready
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Home insurance is pretty complex, and one of the areas that causes the most confusion for homeowners is water damage coverage. Certain types of water damage are covered by most policies, but it all depends on the cause. Here's what homeowners need to know about water damage insurance.

What homeowners need to know about water damage coverage

Water damage is generally covered by a homeowners insurance policy if it happened as a result of a sudden, unexpected event. But if the water damage occurred because of a mistake on the homeowner's part, like a lack of maintenance, it usually isn't covered.

For example, an insurance company will often pay for repairs due to a burst water pipe if that pipe truly burst out of the blue. But if it was corroded, many won't cover it. This is not considered an unexpected event because anyone who looked at the pipe could see that it was likely to fail soon.

Whether mold damage and removal are covered also depends on the cause of the water damage. If the homeowner is considered responsible for the damage, they'll need to pay for repairs on their own.

What types of water damage are covered by homeowners insurance?

Here's a closer look at which types of water damage are usually covered by a home insurance policy:

Broken pipes

As discussed above, pipes that burst unexpectedly are covered by most homeowners insurance policies, provided they were properly maintained prior to bursting.

Rain damage

Rain damage is usually covered if the roof or home was compromised by severe weather. For example, if a tornado ripped the roof off of a home, insurers would cover the resulting rain damage. Or, if a window was broken by hail during a storm, the resulting rain damage may also be covered.

Water line breaks

Similar to broken pipes, water line breaks should be covered as long as they occur inside the home and they're not the homeowners fault due to poor maintenance.

Sump pump failure

Sump pump failure usually isn't covered under a basic homeowners insurance policy. But most insurers enable customers to purchase riders that protect against damage due to sump pump failure.

Extinguishing a fire

If your kitchen catches on fire and the fire department causes significant damage when extinguishing the flames, your homeowners policy should cover the water damage, as well as the fire and smoke damage.

Types of water damage not covered by homeowners insurance

Here are a few common types of water damage that homeowners insurance doesn't cover:

Flood damage

While floods are technically unexpected, they're not covered under a traditional homeowners insurance policy due to the high cost of repairs from flood damage. But homeowners can still purchase protection against floods. Read on for more details.

Rusty or corroded pipes

Rusty or corroded pipes are considered a maintenance issue and any damage that results from them bursting isn't covered by home insurance. Homeowners who notice signs of wear and tear on their plumbing should take steps to repair or replace them right away.

Leaking roof

Roof leaks and damage caused by them aren't covered if they happen as a result of the roof's age. Homeowners must take steps to replace roofs before they start leaking to avoid expensive water damage to their homes.

Leaking appliances

Leaking toilets, water heaters, or other water-using fixtures in the home aren't typically covered under a home insurance policy, since the damage tends to be caused by neglect, rather than an acute incident. It's the homeowners responsibility to perform the routine maintenance their appliances require to keep them in good condition. When one does begin to leak, the homeowner should contact a repair person promptly. You'll need separate equipment breakdown coverage for your insurance, even to replace a suddenly broken appliance.

Water backup from a drain or sewer

Water entering your home due to a drain or sewage backup is unlikely to be covered by your homeowner's policy. If you're afraid these issues might occur, you can get sewer or water backup coverage in addition to your basic policy.

Water main breaks

Public water main breaks are usually the responsibility of the local municipality, not the homeowner. So a typical homeowners insurance policy won't cover damage resulting from them. The section of pipe that goes from your water meter to your home, however, may be your responsibility and may be covered.

How to file an insurance claim for water damage

When water damage happens, here's what homeowners need to do:

  1. Verify that the homeowners insurance policy covers the water damage. Read through the policy terms or contact the insurer to learn if it covers the cause of the water damage.
  2. Think about whether filing a claim makes sense. Filing a claim can raise your premiums, so it only makes sense to do so if the total cost of the damages is more than the deductible. Those who are unfamiliar with the finer points of insurance premiums and deductibles should check out our homeowners insurance coverage overview.
  3. Contact the insurer to notify it of the situation. It's best to do this as soon as possible so homeowners can get the damage fixed quickly.
  4. Document the damage. Take photos or videos showing the water damage and any resulting mold or other issues and submit them to the insurance company. Many have online portals where customers can upload photos of the water damage to speed up their claim.
  5. Make any necessary emergency repairs. The homeowner should take whatever immediate action is necessary to prevent further damage, like covering a hole in a roof. Many home insurers actually require homeowners to do this for their claims to be covered. Hold onto any receipts for these repairs and submit them to the insurer.
  6. Await the insurance adjuster. The insurance company will work with the homeowner to schedule a time for a claims adjuster to come look at the damage. They will help the company arrive at a final claim settlement.
  7. Follow up as necessary. The insurance company should keep the homeowner informed of their progress. But the homeowner can always reach out to the company to find out what's going on if they're not sure.

How to prevent water damage in your home

Homeowners can take the following steps to prevent water damage in their homes:

  • Be proactive about maintenance. Review the maintenance recommendations for all appliances and periodically check pipes for signs of wear. Contact a repair technician at the first sign of a problem.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts every year. This helps water drain away from the home and can reduce the risk of water seepage into basements.
  • Insulate pipes in the winter. This can reduce the risk of pipes freezing and bursting.
  • Consider smart technology. Leak detectors are a cheap and easy way to know if there's been a pipe burst in a spot that's not so easy to see and may remain hidden for a while.

Water damage vs. flood damage

Flooding certainly appears to be a form of water damage, especially for worried homeowners who are dealing with the mess a flood left behind. But in the eyes of home insurers, the two are different. Floods are usually caused by natural disasters, like heavy rains or hurricanes, while covered water damage is usually caused by some sort of broken pipe or fixture, though storm damage could be a contributing factor.

Homeowners who want protection from floods must invest in a separate flood insurance policy. These policies are offered by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and focus exclusively on flood damage. They can be pretty expensive, but they can also provide invaluable protection for homeowners. Some mortgage lenders even require homeowners to carry flood insurance if they live in an area that's prone to floods.


  • Hidden water leaks that are a result of maintenance issues typically aren't covered by a homeowners insurance policy.

  • Homeowners insurance may cover mold damage, depending on the cause of the water damage itself. Usually, only damages due to unforeseen circumstances are covered.

  • Homeowners insurance doesn't cover flood damage due to a hurricane. That's what flood insurance policies are for. A homeowner should take photos of the damage and file a flood insurance claim as soon as possible after a hurricane so they can get their home back to normal quickly.

  • Home insurance typically doesn't cover leaks. Homeowners can prevent leaks by keeping up with maintenance and replacing pipes before they become too rusted or corroded.