Will Home Insurance Cover Water Damage? (Appliances and Plumbing)

July 30, 2019

appliance covered by home insuranceIn prior blogs, we’ve talked about flood insurance in Massachusetts and wet basements caused by a rainy spring or a sudden thaw…

But what about non-weather-related events, like a leaking water line behind the fridge? Or a washing machine that suddenly glitches? An exploding water heater? Will home insurance cover water damage from appliances and plumbing disasters?

Usually, yes. (Big sigh of relief, right?) In most cases, your home insurance policy will cover water damage that is caused by three types of appliance/plumbing problems:

  • Overflow – when water flows beyond its available space (e.g. a washing machine, tub, or toilet)
  • Discharge – when water travels where it shouldn’t travel (e.g. through a crack in a pipe)
  • Blockage – when water backs up in the opposite direction because something is blocking its path

There are some caveats to these rules, however. Not every instance of overflow, discharge, or blockage will be covered by your home insurance. Instead, water losses typically need to be:

  • Sudden and Accidental
  • Internal/Originating on Your Property

Here’s some clarification on what these caveats mean:

What is “sudden and accidental” water damage?

Sudden and accidental means without warning—i.e. you couldn’t have predicted the problem would occur. This phrase is used to distinguish between water damage claims that usually are covered and those that usually aren’t.

For example, let’s say you’ve had a leaky bathroom faucet for months and months… Dripping water pools on the countertop and flows down the wall. Then one day you notice mold behind your sink and vanity. An insurance company might argue that this is a case of insufficient maintenance on your part, and would likely deny the claim.

Other common examples: a leaky roof, clogged gutters, frozen pipes that burst while you’re on winter vacation in Florida. In all of these cases, an insurance company may say that you—the homeowner—could have taken steps to prevent the water damage. And you may be stuck footing your own repair bill.

Why is it important whether or not the damage began on my property?

External events (problems that happen beyond your property line) are another common exclusion for plumbing-related water damage. If a town sewer pipe is backed up, your insurance company probably won’t step in to address the water in your basement… Unless you purchase sewer backup coverage specifically.

So, I need to buy sewer backup coverage specifically?

Yes. We always recommend it. Adding sewer/water backup coverage to your MA home insurance only costs somewhere around $50 per year. With that added coverage, you’re protected against a clog in the city main, cracks or breaks to sewer pipes, tree roots that penetrate or block underground pipes, and backup that occurs in your home’s drainage systems.

Are sump-pump failures covered by home insurance?

Nope. This is another optional add-on, or endorsement. If you have a sump-pump, we recommend asking about coverage. (BTW: we also recommend doing regular checkups on your pump and installing a battery-powered backup pump, in case a rain event also knocks out electricity. It’s much more cost-effective to take these precautionary measures than to insure a dated, inadequate pumping system.) Sump-pump coverage can offer thousands of dollars of protection in the event that your sump-pump fails to do its job.

Do I have to pay a deductible when my home insurance covers water damage?

Usually, yes. If you have a home insurance deductible of $1,000 for example, you would have to pay $1,000 toward the repairs before the insurance company shelled out for the rest of the job. In some cases, if your insurance company is able to find the source of the problem (e.g. a defective appliance or a negligent plumber), they may be able to recover damages on your behalf. In these instances, some homeowners get their deductibles returned to them (though the return often happens many months or even years after the incident).

Should I file a claim for water damage?

This is one of those questions best answered on an individual basis. There are lots of variables to consider. What will it cost to repair the damage? Can you afford to pay it on your own? Does it make better sense, financially, to skip the claim and avoid a potential rate hike in your premium? Are you confident someone else is at fault, and you could reclaim your deductible?

If you have a potential water damage claim, ask a member of our team for personalized advice.

Will insurance pay for a new appliance, after a water damage event?

Unfortunately, no. Most home insurance policies exclude the faulty appliance, whether it’s your fridge, dishwasher, or washing machine.

I’m not sure what I have for water damage coverage? Can you check?

Yes! We are always happy to explain your policy terms and revise them if necessary. Please give a call: 508.339.2951, or shoot us an email: info@candsins.com.