Water, Water Everywhere! Am I Protected? Insurance for Flood, Water/Sewer Backup and Broken Pipes

Did you know that water damage is the #1 homeowner insurance claim in the US?  Indeed, the chance for an average home to be destroyed in a fire is 10%, while the chance for the same home to be destroyed by a water-related loss is over 25% — no matter where the home is located!

But a flood isn’t the only way your home can experience water damage.  In fact, water damage can come in many different forms, and they each require different insurance protection.

In this article, learn more about the three major water-related perils and what you can do to protect against:

1. Flooding

2. Water / Sewer Backup

3. Broken Pipes

1. Flood

Did you know that flood damage is NOT a covered peril on a standard homeowner’s policy?

A “flood” is defined as a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas from:

  1. The overflow of inland or tidal waters.
  2. The unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters (like excess rainwater)
  3. Mudflows caused by flooding.

Floods can happen in the desert, during snowmelt, in developed areas or anywhere the ground is hard and does not absorb excess water. Erosion or inadequate drainage can also lead to floods or mudslides. This is why having flood insurance is so important.

Flooding can damage the foundation, structure, walls, floors and furniture of a home.

While flooding is an excluded peril on a standard homeowner’s insurance policy, you can protect yourself with flood insurance.  You may think that flood insurance is first and foremost meant for people who live near rivers or creeks, or on the coast. (And, oddly enough, those who live in these areas often believe that they don’t qualify for flood insurance because of the high risk factor.)

Neither is true.  Flood protection for your home is easy and often very affordable.  Contact your insurance broker for more information.

2.  Water / Sewer Backup

Water and sewer backup can occur when torrential downpours overwhelm the sewer and drainage systems.  If your sump pump and backup valve fail, water and sewage can back up into your home’s drains, bringing water or, worse, raw sewage into your home.

Most standard homeowner’s insurance policies exclude water / sewer backup coverage.  However, this important protection can often be added to your policy for a minimal charge.  Check with your independent insurance agent for more information.

3. Broken Pipes

A standard homeowner’s insurance policy provides coverage for damage resulting from sudden breaks of pipes and leaks inside the home.  Please note that the water damage must be the result of a sudden break or leak.  Water damage as a result of poor maintenance is considered neglect and is not covered under a standard home insurance policy.

Keep in mind, however, that breaks to outside water and sewer pipes are not covered.

Utility companies are responsible for broken water and sewer lines in the street.   But the short section of pipe in your front yard that runs from the street to your home is not covered. This can be an expensive coverage gap for many homeowners.

Pipes can break, whether it happens inside your walls, in your crawl space, by your outdoor faucet or anywhere in your front yard.  If an outdoor pipe breaks in your front yard, neither your home insurance nor flood insurance would apply.  You would be responsible for construction and repair costs to fix the leak.

Some utilities and specialty insurance carriers may offer maintenance or insurance policies at a modest cost to protect you for this type of loss.