What Types of Water Damage Are Covered by Home Insurance?

What Types of Water Damage Are Covered by Home Insurance?

Caeva O'Callaghan | March 27th, 2020

Home Insurance policies don’t always cover every type of leak or flood. Find out how you’re covered before you’re left high and dry.

I left my taps running – am I covered?

The bad news is, accidents happen and sometimes your floors and ceilings suffer for it. The good news is, your home insurance will cover these floods if you or your kids left the taps running.

Home insurers consider taps left on as flood damage, just like cases of natural flooding, even though you might personally feel guilty. If your overflowing bathtub or sink is a result of negligence on your part, your insurance will cover you just like if it happened because of mechanical failure. After all, we’re all human.

If the tap’s only been running for a few minutes, your structure and possessions may be fine and a couple of hours with the mop will prevent having to make a claim.

But if the taps have been running for a couple of hours or more? You’ll have to say goodbye to your no-claims bonus if you need to pay for ruined flooring, peeling wallpaper, new electrical wiring or equipment like dehumidifiers or carpet cleaners. And if your property hasn’t been maintained properly, your insurer may reject your claim.

Burst and frozen pipes

Your home insurance will cover you if one of your pipes bursts and causes water damage in your home. However, as always, it’s best to prevent these kinds of accidents and avoid making a claim.

Water expands as it freezes, and pressure builds up behind chunks of ice if the pipe is warm and cold in different places. Burst pipes are a big risk in winter. Keep taps dripping in very cold weather to prevent a potentially catastrophic claim. Drain water from outdoor taps and cover them with foam cladding (or an old sock), and disconnect and store hoses and sprinkler systems.

Also, make sure to insulate water pipes that run through unheated areas of your home, such as the loft, cellar, or garage.

Something else you need to think about is paying for water lost through a burst pipe. Do you have a water meter? If you do, this could mean you pay higher bills for water that did nothing but damage your home. For example, Allianz states that while it pays claims involving leaks, cover for lost water will be capped at €1,000.

Storms and floods

Good news – many home insurance policies cover storm damage, flooding and subsidence. But you should always check your policy, especially if you live in a high-risk area like a flood plain.

A recent study by location intelligence company Gamma shows that over 60,000 Irish homes are at risk of flooding due to climate change. While the Irish Government is working on a new law to force insurance firms to provide cover in areas at risk of flooding, they aren’t obligated to do so at the moment.

Many insurance companies refuse to offer cover on homes that have been flooded in the past. Some won’t even give you cover if your home has never been affected, but your neighbour’s has.

While many home insurance policies do include flooding, some only cover structural damage to your property. Not all policies cover the contents of your home. It’s vital you read the small print if you live in an at-risk area, to find out how you’re covered.

As always, prevention is better than cure. So, if your home is at risk of flood, invest in sandbags. You can also move your car to higher ground if needed and keep up to date with flood warnings from Met Eireann.

What’s not covered

What’s not covered

Checking your policy carefully will let you know if your flood-damaged contents are covered by your home insurance policy. Or, you can get your broker to check your policy for you. Some policies only cover the structure of your property, and won’t replace your waterlogged belongings.

Insurance is there if the worst should happen, but it’s not a maintenance contract. If flooding or water damage occurs as a result of natural wear and tear, you won’t be covered. Similarly, your insurance will not look kindly on poorly maintained or neglected properties.

It also matters whether you put preventative measures in place if you had adequate warning of a flood. For example, if a storm in your area hit the national news, but you failed to put down sandbags. That would affect your insurance.