Understanding Water Damage and Your Insurance Coverage

houston water damage insurance experts

You just discovered that your home has water damage from a plumbing issues, roof leak or any other way water can wind up and ruin your home.  Now you have to find out will my insurance cover this and/or should I file a claim out all.

Don’t worry – this guide will walk you through what you need to know.

First some key points:

  • Most homeowner’s insurance policies cover sudden and accidental water damage. Examples would include a burst pipe, toilet overflow, or broken washer hose.
  • Policies usually won’t cover damage from gradual leaks or sewer backup.
  • As a homeowner, it’s your duty to mitigate the risk of further losses. If you don’t, your insurer may not cover any secondary losses—or even the original loss.

Table of Contents

Find the Declaration Page for 90% of the Answers

When you purchase a home insurance policy, you’ll receive a document known as the “declaration page.” This is a critical section of the policy that summarizes the key features, terms, and conditions of the homeowner’s insurance coverage.

The declaration page typically includes information on the insured property, the policyholder, the coverage limits, and the deductible amounts. It also lists the types of insurance coverage included in the policy, such as liability, personal property, and dwelling coverage.

It’s essential to review the declaration page carefully. By doing so, you can make sure that you have the coverage you need and are aware of any exclusions/limitations or endorsements/additional coverage that may apply.  Sometimes exclusions and endorsements are not easily shown in the declaration page and would be somewhere in the other part of your policy.  

Types of Homeowner's Insurance Policy - Named Perils vs All Risks

Insurance policies can sometimes be difficult to understand and cause confusion, especially when dealing with named perils and all risks insurance. 

Named perils insurance policies only provide coverage for specific risks that are expressly listed in the policy. For instance, if a homeowner’s insurance policy lists damages from fire, theft, and some types of water damage, only those named damages will be covered. 
HO-1 and HO-2 are types of named peril polices.  

Conversely, all risks insurance policies provide coverage for any loss that is not specifically excluded in the policy. That means all types of losses are covered if they’re not named as excluded. For example, commercial insurance policies may exclude damages caused by war or earthquake, and all other losses are covered. 
HO-3 is a type of all risk policy. 

Understanding Coverage Types

Dwelling insurance coverage is a type of insurance that protects the structure of your home from unexpected damage or loss. Essentially, it’s the core coverage that any homeowner should invest in to make sure their home is covered in the event of an unforeseen event. 

Use this chart to learn the other different types of coverage on your declaration page. 

Coverage type

What it does

How much you need

Dwelling

Pays to repair or rebuild your house and structures attached to it.

Enough to completely rebuild your home from the ground up

Other structures

Pays to repair or rebuild your shed, guest house, fence, or other structures on your property not attached to your home

10% of your dwelling coverage limit

Personal property

Pays to replace furniture, electronics, kitchen appliances, and other stuff you own

50% to 70% of your dwelling coverage limit

Loss of use (A.L.E. – Additional Living Expenses)

Pays for hotel stays, rentals, restaurant bills, and other temporary expenses while your home is being rebuilt

20% of your dwelling coverage limit

Personal liability

Pays for guests’ medical bills and legal expenses if you’re found legally responsible

$100,000 to $500,000

Medical payments to others

Pays for guests’ medical bills from minor injuries — regardless of who’s at fault

$1,000 to $5,000

Understanding Endorsements vs Exclusions

When it comes to insurance policies, there are two key terms that policyholders should understand: endorsement and exclusion. Both of these terms significantly impact the coverage that a policy provides.

An endorsement is an amendment or addition that modifies an insurance policy’s terms and conditions. These modifications may be used to add more coverage to a policy or to clarify the terms of the insurance. An endorsement may be requested by the policyholder or the insurance company.

On the other hand, an exclusion is a provision within the insurance policy that eliminates coverage for specific circumstances or events. For example, if an insurance policy has a flood exclusion, damages incurred due to flooding will not be covered.

The key difference between these two terms is that endorsements expand coverage, while exclusions limit it. It is important for policyholders to carefully review their insurance policy’s endorsements and exclusions to ensure that they have appropriate coverage for their needs.

Should I file a Claim or Not?

The answer depends on how much water damage your have and how much is your deductible.   Don’t forget your deductible can be found in your declaration page of your insurance policy.

In addition to the water remediation, if you file a claim, the total payout from your insurance company for the water damage to your home will also cover the rebuilding of your home (the construction after the water mitigation) to pre-loss conditions caused by the water damage.  It will all be consider a single claim for the both the water remediation and rebuild.  The only amount you will be responsible for this single claim will be your deductible, and not a penny more or less. 

At my company, Woodlands Water Restoration, we tell our customers that if the rebuild (the construction after the water mitigation) is equal or more than your deductible than to file.  If not, don’t.

The hardest question is determining how much damage was caused by the water, what type of water it was – clean or sewage water for example and what is the cost to rebuild you home back to pre-loss condition.

This is point when you need a company who can provide you with an evaluation of the damage and guide you to making that decision.  

If you live in the Houston Metro Area, Harris County or Montgomery County call Woodlands Water Restoration at 281-795-5736 for a free evaluation today.

If You Have Already Filed a Claim - Do These Things

Make a list of your damaged property. If possible, take pictures or videos of the damage before making any repairs. Don’t throw away any damaged items until your adjuster has seen them.

Stop the water flow or leak as soon as you can. Know how to turn the water off at the main valve or at the valves under your sinks and near appliances.

Remember that you can choose any restoration company you want and you don’t have to use the vendor provided by the insurance company.  It may just make sense to have someone that is not part of the insurance’s team to get a different account on what should be covered.  For example, if you have a wood floor that effect by water damage, make sure that the insurance pays for the entirety of the wood floor and not just to replace a couple of panels.

Conclusion

Water damage can cause serious problems for homeowners and their properties. To make sure you are protected, homeowners need to understand their insurance policies and coverage options. This includes knowing what types of water damage are covered and the policy deductibles. Homeowners should also be careful when choosing an insurance policy because they are all not the same. They should read and understand all the terms and ask questions if they don’t understand something. 

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