(So first I probably need to insert the mandatory disclaimer. Insurance policies vary and you should check with your insurance agent/company to determine which coverage applies to your specific situation. Also, this blog post is intended to be informational and not a guarantee of coverage or lack of coverage for your particular policy. And finally…this blog post is not intended to be a complete list of exclusions on a home insurance policy. Ok…done!)
In my 19 years of insurance experience, I have received many questions about coverage. Over time, I’ve been able to recall certain situations that come up more frequently than others. Your home is the biggest investment you’ll ever make, so it’s important to know what is covered and not covered by homeowner’s insurance policy. While most customers know that fire, lightning, wind, water damage from broken pipes, and trees falling on your home are generally covered by insurance, many customers don’t really know what is NOT covered by their policy. Here are 5 of the most common causes of damage that are not covered by home insurance. As always, if you have individual questions, you can email me [email protected] or call me 571-222-7819.
Most people who don’t live near the coast don’t think about floods. However FEMA will tell you that 20% of flood claims occur in moderate-to-low risk flood zones. Flood coverage can be purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program. The Bigoski Agency can help set the policy up for you. NOTE: Flood policies usually carry a 30-day waiting period…so setting up a policy 2 days before a big storm isn’t a good idea.
Water Backup/Sump Pump Overflow
This type of damage can be very common when we get a large volume of rain in a short time period. Sump pumps are designed to remove subsurface water that collects below your basement floor and underground. But sometimes they fail either mechanically or because of power outages. (I found an example on YouTube.) This type of water damage would be excluded from standard homeowners insurance policies. NOTE #1: Most insurance companies DO offer an optional coverage that can be added to your policy. NOTE #2: In the YouTube video, the homeowner seems to be using a “do-it-yourself” method of drying his basement. This is not recommended. I recommend you use a professional water damage restoration company in these cases to prevent mold from forming (Mold remediation in most cases, is excluded from home insurance).
Earth Movement (Earthquake, Sinkhole)
Earthquake AND Sinkhole coverage can also be added separately to home policies.
This is one of the many reasons why a home inspection is important when buying a home. A big exclusion on home insurance is damage caused by “bulging, cracking, expansion, settling or shrinking in
ceilings, foundations, floors, patios, pavements, roofs or walls.” Unlike some of the examples above, there typically aren’t any riders/endorsements you can add to a policy for this type of damage.
Mechanical Breakdown/Wear & Tear
This one requires a bit of explanation through some examples. Example #1: The Bigoski Family front-load washing machine had a valve that wasn’t working properly which caused the machine to overflow and water went through the floor and through our first floor ceiling (see pictures!!) The service call to Old Dominion Appliance Repair in Haymarket (highly recommended!!) to fix the washing machine was not claimable. The water damage remediation through FloodTech3 (also highly recommended!!) and drywall work was claimable on insurance, subject to the policy deductible.
Another common example is the water heater in the basement breaks down causing water damage. Generally the water heater replacement isn’t claimable but water damage would be claimable, subject to your deductible.