Accidental Water Damage…What is covered by My Homeowners Policy?

First let’s look at definitions.

A back-up is an accumulation caused by a stoppage in the flow; (Typically not covered)

  • Something prevents the water from continuing down its path
  • The flow is forced to reverse direction and go back the other way.
  • A collapsed drain pipe or blockage can cause a back-up.

An overflow is when the water exceeds its boundaries;

  • The space is filled to capacity and water then spreads beyond its limits.
  • A bath tub left running creates an overflow.

A discharge is a flowing or issuing out;

  • Water coming from a pipe.
  • A leaking pipe discharges water from the hole in the pipe;
  • It is not a back-up or an overflow.
Discharge or Overflow?

The Homeowners Form HO3 and HO6 provide coverage for water damage that is the result of a discharge or overflow of a plumbing, heating, air conditioning, or household appliance if it is on the residence premises.

This covers

  • pipes that leak behind walls, floors, or ceilings including AC drip pans,
  • washing machines and dishwashers that overflow,
  • toilets or bathtubs that overflow, or
  • storm drains off premises that overflow due to high rains or floods.

It is important to note that a sump, sump pump or related equipment, or a roof drain, gutter or downspout or similar equipment is not considered a plumbing system or household appliance.

A discharge or overflow caused by a storm drain, water, steam, or sewer pipe is covered as well if it is off the premises.
The coverage is for repair of the damaged property—the walls, floors, tiling, and carpet, areas that got saturated and need to be repaired or replaced. Even the tear out of a wall, for example, to get to a leaking pipe is covered.

What is not covered is the leaking pipe itself; a pipe leak is often caused by simple wear and tear or age of the system, and that is a maintenance item. However, even if the insured is hanging a picture and pokes a hole in a brand new home and new pipes, the damage to the pipe is not covered. The exclusion for damage to the item causing the loss is all encompassing, and has no exceptions.

The policy specifically excludes water that backs-up through sewers or drains, overflows from sumps, sump pumps, or related equipment.

But wait…….. this is where a lot of losses occur.

To provide coverage for this occurrence there is the Water Back-up and Sump Discharge or Overflow endorsement, HO 04 95.

This provides $5,000 of coverage for back up through a sewer or drain or
Overflow or discharge of a sump, sump pump or related equipment,
Even if the equipment suffers a mechanical breakdown.
This coverage does not, however, increase the limits of liability for coverage A, B, C, or D in the homeowners’ policy.
This takes the problem of defining back-up or overflow out of the equation of certain losses, since the endorsement provides the coverage that is excluded in the main policy itself.

Make sure to ask for this coverage to be added to your Homeowners Policy.

Call SWFL Insurance Agency at 239-265-9577 for a full review of your present coverage and a competitive quote.

Note: Damage caused by repeated leakage of water, such as rot, fungi, mold, deterioration are covered under a specific peril with conditions. See Fungi, Mold.

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