Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Basement Water Damage?

mold in corner of basement

Originally posted 6/12/2018, updated 12/31/2020

You don’t want to walk downstairs one day, and find water in your basement.  That’s the sort of discovery that can ruin anyone’s day!  But if that water has damaged your home and possessions, it’s going to be expensive as well as frustrating.

Acculevel is a foundation repair company that specializes in basement waterproofing.  Founded in 1996, we are a family-owned and operated company.  Our goal is to help homeowners protect and maintain their homes, so that everyone has a safe and healthy place to live.  We provide free estimates to customers.  During those appointments, we’ve noticed that many people ask about insurance coverage; they’re often unsure if they can file a claim to cover the costs of waterproofing and flood-related damages.  

Since we’re not an insurance company, we relied on our own insurer (Blevins Insurance) to help us tackle this particular topic. In this article, we’re going to explain when homeowners insurance will cover basement water damage, if you need additional coverage, and what you can do to prevent your own basement from flooding. 

A word of caution: while we wholeheartedly recommend contacting your insurance agent with questions about your policy and coverage, there can be unintended consequences.  

On a few occasions, a customer has checked with his/her insurance agent about covering a specific problem.  The agent came to the home, did an evaluation, then told the customer it wasn’t covered. But now that the insurance carrier knew about the existing problem, if the customer didn’t repair the issue within a given time, they would drop their insurance coverage.  Our advice?  If possible, call and update your insurance before you have any issues to resolve. 

 

Plumbing Issues

If the flooding is due to an unexpected event, the damages are generally covered, but the repair is not.  If your washing machine busts a gasket or valve, and the basement floods, your homeowner’s insurance will cover repairs or replacement costs for drywall, furniture, etc.  But the cost to repair your washing machine is your responsibility.  

Similarly, if you have a pipe burst, the damage to your belongings is covered- but the plumbing bill is not.  Be aware that if the pipe is damaged because it’s not properly insulated, installed, or well-maintained, the insurance company may be less likely to cover the expenses. 

mold in corner of basementThis photo was taken by an Acculevel project manager during a free estimate appointment.  Water has been seeping into the basement and feeding mold.

 

Flooding by Natural Events 

If you do not have flood insurance, you are up the proverbial creek without a paddle.  It does not matter if the flooding occurs because of sudden torrential rainfall, a breaking dam, or just a long rainy spring.

 

Flooding from Man-Made Issues

Flood insurance is only for natural events caused by weather.  If your basement floods because the sewer backs up, the basement drain overflows, or your sump pump breaks?  These are not flood events and aren’t covered by home insurance OR flood insurance.

For these issues, you have to separately purchase ‘sewer and drain’ coverage.  

 

5 Ways to Prevent Water Damage in Your Basement

There’s no way to absolutely guarantee your basement won’t flood.  (Mother Nature is unpredictable, even to the best meteorologists!)  But here are five steps you can take to help prevent it from happening.

  1. Regularly check your home’s plumbing.  Open cabinets under sinks and look for signs of dripping or seeping water.  Check connections to your washer, your water heater, etc. Have someone run the taps or the shower, and check the piping in the basement wherever it’s visible.
  2. Install a water drainage system.  Your foundation is (probably) made of concrete, which is a porous material.  If enough rain collects in the soil around your foundation, it will start intruding into your home.  The force of this rainwater is called hydrostatic pressure
  3. Do not rely on a basement floor drain.  This is not a substitute for a properly installed drainage system with a sump pump.  – A sump pump will help to pump out any water in your basement.
  4. Verify the grading (the slope) of the ground around your home.  If it is allowing water to collect in pools around the foundation, fix this promptly.  Check and clean your guttering, and install downspout extensions to move water away from your foundation. 
  5. Use our DIY Foundation Inspection Checklist.  We have modeled this checklist after our own 21 Point Inspection, and recommend that you perform this check twice per year for best results. 

For additional questions about insurance coverage, you should consult with your own insurance agent.  But if you have questions about basement waterproofing, we can help you with that!  Our Basement Waterproofing Guide is designed to address all of the questions you may have about waterproofing, clearly and thoroughly.  

link to our waterproofing guide

 

Kelly Kater

Over her twenty year career, Kelly has worked in a wide variety of fields: secondary education, nursing, biology, elder care, the postal service, multicultural development, and academia. She has developed a skill for translating industry-specific jargon into everyday language. Her goal is to share the knowledge and experience of the Acculevel team with homeowners, in a way that is both engaging and informative.

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