If you’re like most homeowners, you assume that you’re covered. There’s no reason to scan the fine print with a magnifying glass. Your agent explained everything. You don’t give it much thought until you’re staring down flooded floors, soaked walls and a major water damage cleanup project.
This isn’t the time to ask, “Does my home insurance cover water damage?”
Don’t feel bad. Industry studies reveal that 44 percent of homeowners overestimate their coverage. As Chicago’s leading water damage restoration contractor, we’re in a solid position to clear up the confusion.
Are All Policies the Same?
At first glance, homeowner insurance policies seem to offer the same basic coverage. When an emergency strikes, you file a claim and pay a deductible. However, there are two very important factors to consider when you weigh your options. First, the amount you spend on a policy usually makes a difference.
• Policies with low premiums offer limited coverage, and they carry high deductibles.
• Intermediate policies come with modest deductibles and good coverage.
• Expensive insurance policies greatly reduce your deductible liability.
Second, your homeowner’s policy doesn’t cover natural flood events. You have to purchase a separate policy for protection that covers this kind of disaster.
What Kind of Water Damage Is and Isn’t Covered?
Policy details vary from one company to another, so be sure to check with your agent. In most cases, your insurance policy covers the kinds of accidents that you’d expect including these typical home water catastrophes:
• Leaky plumbing
• Washing machine breakdown (see how to prevent water leaking from your washing machine)
• Broken kitchen dishwashers
• Frozen burst pipes
• Mold problems caused by a covered water event
When we help home and business owners who need water restoration services, we often have to explain that insurance only covers damages. It doesn’t apply to the cost of repairing the source of the damage, and it usually also doesn’t cover:
• Outside sewer line backups
• Natural flooding events
• Mold resulting from natural flooding
• Damage resulting from neglected maintenance
In short, you need an additional flood insurance to protect yourselves from the financial impact of these natural events.
How Does Flood Insurance Work?
The process is similar to purchasing regular home insurance. Coverage includes the cost of rebuilding or the actual value of your house, whichever is less. Most policies cover personal property and belongings but don’t protect against the loss of landscaping, outdoor structures and vehicles. It’s important to understand your flood-insurance basics:
1. It’s very difficult to obtain flood insurance from traditional carriers. Most homeowners who want or need this type of coverage purchase it through the federally regulated National Flood Insurance Program.
2. The NFIP offers two different types of policies. One covers personal belongings and a separate policy covers your actual house. The amount of coverage is up to you.
3. If you plan on building or buying in a location that’s considered a Special Hazard Flood Area, you’re required to obtain flood insurance. However, you’re free to purchase coverage for any property anywhere.
What Are My Next Steps?
We strongly recommend that you speak with your insurance carrier to determine exactly what kind of coverage best suits your home and your budget. If you need some help what questions to ask your agent, just click here.
You might want to update an older policy to keep up with a growing household. Downsizing calls for adjustments in insurance needs too, so make it a habit to consult with your agent at least once a year.
If you rent your home, don’t assume that you’re protected by insurance that your landlord carries on the property. We suggest that you look into your options. Renters insurance offers coverage that’s very affordable compared to the cost of replacing personal belongings.
Finally, take a proactive approach to flooding around your home. Good maintenance routines keep things humming around the house and help head off potential water emergencies.
Don’t forget about your great outdoors. A few good drainage strategies can save your property from a devastating flood.
Proud to Be Your Advocate
We hope that our post gives you a better overview of this important homeowner issue. If you’re still unsure about your options, ask your agent – does your home insurance cover water damage? Understanding your coverage makes it much easier to handle a big water damage cleanup project.
We’re always here to help, and we’re proud to be your advocate when you deal with the insurance company. You can count on ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba for the best water damage restoration in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.