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Water damage: Are you covered? Check your insurance.

Water has become the number one insurance claim, surpassing fire and theft. Approximately 1 in every 50 homeowners will file a water claim in the next year because of water damage to their property, and most of these claims will not be covered by your insurance policy. Water damage has not only become common, it’s expensive, with the average claim surpassing $10,000.

What does your insurance cover?

Most home insurance policies will generally cover damage caused by sudden events, such as a burst water pipe, ruptured water heater, and heavy rain, however the claims are very limited, and the damage will not cover important irreplaceable items such as photographs, childhood mementos and heirloom furniture pieces – many of the items we often keep stored seemingly “safe” in our basements.

Most policies will NOT cover:

  • Gradual or negligent water damage that occurs slowly over time, ie: loose faucets, slow leaks from appliances, or slowly developing cracks in your home’s foundation or cracks.

  • Mold: While some insurance companies provide mold insurance when requested, they will not cover remediation costs when an issue arises.

  • Repairing source of leaks: While your insurance may pay for damage to items due to a burst water heater, for example, they will not repair or replace the appliance itself.

  • Water back-up from an outdoor drain or sewer: This coverage is generally not included in a standard home insurance policy, and may need to be requested as a policy add-on.

What can you do?

Read your policy carefully as many items will change annually and notification of these changes is not always clearly advised by your insurance company. If unsure, ask specific questions, and shop around. It’s also important to protect your home by purchasing a water detection system in case a leak or flood should begin.

Other precautions should include:

  • Ensuring your basement is finished with non-organic materials such as tile or vinyl flooring. Never finish a basement using carpet or wood flooring, as the slightest bit of water can cause mold to grow within 24 hours.

  • Whenever possible (and especially in new home builds), have your appliances raised by at least two inches on a concrete pad, including your water heater and furnace system.

  • If finishing a basement, use a non-porous, non-organic material directly on the floor, such as Floodsill ( to elevate partitions before walls go up.

  • Protect your personal belongings: Basements are the main areas for flood and water damage. Store all items in elevated shelves, and use plastic bins to store them – never cardboard boxes directly on the floor.•

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