Your home owners insurance policy here in California provides a covered claim for any cause of loss that is sudden and incidental.  If a pipe bursts, you have a covered claim.  If an appliance fails and you have a sudden spilling of water into your home, you have a covered claim.  If your water heater explodes, you have a covered claim.  However, you are only covered for the damages that result.  The cause of loss is not covered.  For example, a pipe in the ceiling bursts and floods your kitchen.  Anything that is damaged as result of the water from the pipe is covered under your policy.  All of the contents (personal belongings) that are damaged, and any building materials that are damaged are covered being that the cause of loss is a pipe burst.  However, the pipe that burst, being that it is the cause of the loss, is not covered.  It is your responsibility to pay for the repair of the pipe.

Is a pipe burst or leaking pipe covered under my home owners insurance?

This can be a tricky one to navigate as there are a few differences in determining the cause of loss for a covered claim relating to the water supply lines.   For starters, you will need to determine if there is a slow leak or the pipe burst.  Even a pin hole leak that can result from corrosion of the pipe would be considered a pipe burst as it occurs suddenly and there is no maintenance that you should have been responsible to handle that would have prevented the failure.  In contrast, a small leak under your sink where the shut-off valve (angle stop) connects to the pipe is a leak they can argue that you should have noticed as it is in an accessible area.  The leak would also be a small drip that would be occurring over a long period of time and could be deemed long term damage.  Another factor would be the location of the pipe.  It is important to determine whether a slab leak is in fact a slab leak.  Slab leaks are leaks coming from a pipe that is enclosed in the concrete that is your foundation. If the pipe is under the slab in the dirt, then some carriers do not extend coverage.  This is another instance in which having a professional on your side will be incredibly helpful when assessing how and when to file your claim.  An inaccurate reporting of the cause of loss can result in a denial to a claim that should be covered.  Another thing to remember is that the insurance company will not cover the repair of the pipe, but some carriers cover the work needed to access the damaged pipes.  This can include digging up concrete or rerouting the lines to avoid digging up the concrete.

Is a cause of loss relating to a dishwasher overflow a covered claim?

Yes, if your dishwasher overflows, the cause of loss is a water intrusion resulting from the overflow of the dishwasher.  All of the resulting damage to the home and your belongings are covered.  Being that the dishwasher is the cause the of loss, the replacement of the dishwasher is not covered.  If the dishwasher is under warranty, and is found to be defective, then your insurance company will subrogate the damages against the dishwasher manufacturer.  They will still pay out the claim for you so that you can perform your repairs, but they will seek reimbursement from the manufacturer.  If they are successful, then you will be reimbursed your deductible also.  An overflow from your washing machine is covered in the same manner.  Here is a little twist that is important to know.  If a pipe bursts in your ceiling as discussed earlier, and the water gets into the electrical connections of one of your appliances, then these appliances would be covered under the loss.  So you can see that it is important to identify the actual system in your home that failed so you can identify the cause of loss.

Is a cause of loss relating to my water heater a covered claim?

If your water heater explodes, or if it fails and a large amount of water disperses from the water heater directly, then the resulting damages will be covered claim.  The cause of loss is an influx of water due to a failure of the water heater.  If you have a small leak in the connection of the flex line to the water heater, and over a long period of time water is dripping off the water heater causing water damage and possibly mold to the structure that your water heater sits on, then this will be harder to get coverage.  They will claim the cause of loss is a maintenance issue that has caused damage over a long period of time and not a sudden occurrence.  It is not a clear cut denial, but you will need to make sure that proper steps are followed in filing the claim.  Each case is different so I suggest you hire/seek consultation from a professional if you are unsure.  The proper presentation can make all the difference in extending coverage.  You will need to be able to show that there are no steps that you could and should have taken to prevent the damage.  If it is a leak coming from one of the water lines that connects to the water heater, even from a circulation pump connection, then you have a covered claim as the cause of loss would once again be a pipe burst and not a failure of the water heater.

Is a sewer backup or toilet overflow a cause of loss that is a covered claim?

Yes it is.  All soft blockage backups and overflows are covered claims.  There  are particulars to the specific location of the backup and what caused the backup, but the interior damages are covered and the waters are considered category 3 and need to be handled properly.  See this post for more info.  Click here.

When is a fire a cause of loss that is a covered claim?

It’s easier to answer when a fire is not covered, as the only time a fire is not covered is if it can be proven that the fire was purposefully started to gain coverage for the beneficiary of the policy.  All other instances are covered claims, including accidents.  If you knock over a candle on accident, you are covered and the damages will be paid.  If they can prove it was on purpose, then you will be denied and face charges.  Electrical fire, covered claim.  Kitchen fire, covered claim.  Cigarette lights a curtain on fire, covered claim.  Explosion from a gas line or leaking furnace, covered claim.  The important thing to know when you have a fire in your home is to stay safe.  We can repair your home and recover the costs to have your belongings replaced.  Focus on getting your loved ones (including furry ones) to safety.  Have a fire safe in your home to protect any personal documents or keepsakes so you don’t have to risk yourself in case of a fire.   If you have suffered a fire as the cause of loss, then make sure that the resulting smoke damage is addressed along with the burnt areas.  Even a small fire can cause smoke to fill your home and travel into areas that you cannot see but will cause long term odors in your home.

Is wind storm damage a cause of loss that is a covered claim?

In terms of wind damage, you have a covered claim if it can be shown that the cause of loss was high winds blowing things off of your home or if high winds blow objects onto your home causing physical damage.  You are also covered for any relating damages.  For instance, if wind blows tiles off your roof and this allows water into your home through the roof, then you will have a covered claim for the repair of the roof as well as the interior damages.  Make sure to inspect any insulation that comes in contact with water as the r-rating for the insulation can be compromised and require replacement even if it can be dried down.  You also need to be careful in the clean up process of waters that have come through the ceiling as many times there may be contaminants in your attic that turn the water into category 3 hazardous waters.  This will require proper containment and cleaning protocols so do not let the rest of your home become contaminated by putting fans on it without sealing off the area.  Catching the water in buckets, trash cans, or other containers is smart.  Also, your insurance company will pay to have us come out a place a roof cover over the damaged area during the storm to prevent water from continuing to come into your home.

Is a roof leak a cause of loss that is a covered claim?

If you have neglected your roof and have deferred necessary maintenance to the roof and this has allowed water to enter the home during a rain storm, rest assured that the damage to the interior of your home is still a covered claim.  However, the repair of the roof will not be covered as the neglected roof is the cause of loss.  The roof only receives coverage is there are high winds during the storm and roofing materials are blown off the roof allowing the water into the home.

Are flood waters covered in my home owners insurance policy.

Unfortunately, like earthquake insurance, floods waters entering the home from ground waters that have accumulated in a rain storm are not covered under your home owners insurance policy unless you have specifically added these coverages to your policy or purchased a separate policy to cover these types of loses.

If you have any other questions relating to loses relating to water, fire, smoke, of wind damage, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation or comment on this blog and we will respond back to you.