What types of water damage does home insurance cover?

Did you know that all water damage isn’t the same, and is covered differently on your home policy? Depending on how the water entered your home, and where it came from, determines how it’s covered (or not covered) by your home insurance. Even if you’ve done everything to prevent a flood in your home, sometimes Mother Nature has other plans – so it’s important to know how your insurance covers you. We’ve recruited our own expert and licensed insurance agent, Matt, to explain the difference between general water damage incidents and damage from sewer backup or overland water.

Open "Water Damage with Matt" text transcript

[Percussive upbeat music]

[Title: Ask Sonnet]

[Subtitle: Water Damage]

[Sonnet HOME + AUTO branding / wordmark]

[Speakers Name: Matt / Job Title: Customer service hero]

> Matt: Hi, my name is Matt I'm a customer service hero at Sonnet, and today we're gonna be talking about water damage because I love talking about sewage.

[laughter]

>>Matt: Cut that.

When it comes to home insurance it's protecting, arguably, one of the biggest assets you're ever gonna own in your life. General water damage that is typically included in your standard home insurance policy,

[heading: General water damage / subheading: Included coverage]

[graphic of a home filling with water due to appliance malfunction]

and that's things like your dishwasher suddenly malfunctioning and causing a flood in your home and causing some serious damage. Further to that there's some more optional coverages like sewer back up and over-land water coverage.

[heading: Sewer back up / subheading: Optional coverage]

[graphic of a home filling with water due to sewer back up]

Sewer back up coverage is actually an event that occurs when the sewer drains back up into someone's house. Not only is it really difficult and expensive to clean up but it can also pose health risks.

[heading: Overland water / subheading: Optional coverage]

[graphic of a home filling with water from outside]

When it comes to overland water coverage, that's for events like excessive rainfall or spring runoff maybe even a snow melt. It doesn't actually include the escape of coastal water or salt water that would not be an event that's covered by overland water coverage.

We get a lot of questions at Sonnet about whether or not they need those optional coverages of sewer back up and overland water coverage. Those events can be quite common and they can also be quite costly if they do occur. So making sure you have the right water damage protection that's available to you is of paramount importance, especially for those situations that can sometimes be pretty messy.

[Sonnet HOME + AUTO branding / wordmark]

[legal disclaimer: (copyright) 2018 Sonnet Insurance. Sonnet Insurance All trademarks used herein are owned by the respective entities. All rights reserved. Policies underwritten by Sonnet Insurance Company.]

What is general water damage?

“General” water damage includes something the insurance industry calls “clean” water. It’s sudden or accidental flooding from water that didn’t enter through the ground or the sewer. For example, maybe an appliance like your dishwasher overflows and causes a flood in your kitchen. This would fall under the more common, “general” water damage category. Other examples include waterline breaks, and frozen or burst pipes.

Coverage for this water damage is typically included in your standard home insurance policy. However, there are some optional coverages you could consider adding onto your policy such as sewer backup or overland water coverage.

What is sewer backup?

Sewer backup is when the sewer drains backup into your home – typically the basement – caused by a clog in the sewer line, outdated sewer systems, or excess rain. Sewer backup coverage covers damage from this water that comes into your home through pipes, drains, septic tanks, eaves troughs, or down spouts. Sewer backup damage can warrant a timely and expensive clean-up, so having the right coverage on your home policy is important.

What is overland water?

Overland water is often considered “fresh” water that comes through your windows and doors at ground level. Overland water coverage covers damage from excessive rainfall, river flooding, spring run-off and melting snow or ice. Unfortunately, it doesn’t cover damage from coastal water (saltwater) – so events like tsunamis or tidal waves wouldn’t be included.

If these coverages are optional, why should I get them?

As Matt mentioned in the video, water damage can be costly to repair. Adding these extra coverages to protect your stuff would cost less than the cost of replacing and fixing everything that was damaged. Sewer backup and overland water coverage also include additional living expenses if you have to move out of your home while any damage is being repaired. These coverages are worth the nominal increase to your monthly premium, especially if you live in a flood-prone area.

Do I need these coverages if I live in a high-rise condo?

This depends on the situation. Let’s say the lobby or lower levels of your condo have been damaged by a flood – so badly that you can’t access your unit. Having that extra coverage would help with additional living expenses if you needed to relocate while the repairs are happening. It would also provide coverage for your items in a storage locker located in the basement of your building and was damaged by a flood.

Check to see if you live in a flood-prone area and learn the best ways to prevent water damage to your home. Some examples could be installing a flood-sensor in your basement or kitchen; getting your home winter-ready to avoid frozen or burst pipes; or installing a sump pump to help avoid sewer backup. Having sewer backup and overland water coverage will make sure you’re covered in any situation.


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