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Understanding water damage claims and your insurance policy

Posted by Scott Stueber on Apr 2, 2019 11:22:42 AM

Flood insuranceAfter a long, cold winter, many of us yearn for the transition to spring. More daylight, chirping birds, increased outdoor activity, and the start of Major League Baseball are all signs that we’re getting closer to warmer days.

Unfortunately, as we make the transition, melting snow and spring rains often lead to serious flooding in many parts of the country. While many people worry about losing their home to fire, water damage is one of the most common homeowner claims.

If a flood consumes your neighborhood or your sump pump fails and your home fills with water, do you have the right insurance coverage in place to fix the damage?

Below are some water damage claims that may impact your home. It’s important to understand each one so you can make sure you have the right insurance coverage in place.


Spring thaws combined with several inches of rain can cause your community to flood quickly. If you have a river nearby, the situation can escalate even more. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), flooding is the most common and expensive natural disaster in the United States.

A standard home insurance policy doesn’t provide coverage for damage caused by a flood. If your home is in a community that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) you may be eligible for flood insurance through the federal government. Some private insurers may also provide coverage.

NFIP coverage for a single-family home can provide coverage limits up to $250,000 on dwelling coverage and $100,000 on contents. If you’re a renter, you can get coverage for up to $100,000 on contents.

The waiting period for an NFIP policy is 30 days. So, trying to buy a policy just before a big storm hits your neighborhood won’t provide you with coverage.

Sump pump overflow

In March, April, and May, West Bend’s Claims department sees an influx in sump pump claims. Because our sump pumps work hard this time of year, it’s important to make sure they’re in proper working order. While I’m always thankful when I hear my sump pump run, I’m also always a bit nervous because I know water is an issue.

A standard insurance policy may not provide coverage for sump pump overflow. A West Bend policy provides coverage only if you choose it. It’s not automatically provided.

Sewer backup

Sewer backups can occur in your home due to:

  • Tree roots growing in sewer pipes;
  • Deteriorated sewer pipers; and
  • Problems with your municipal sewer system.

Depending on how your city sewer system works, too much rain water can overload the system causing the water to backup into your home. The backup may not occur just at the drain in your basement, it can come through your sinks, toilets, or bathtubs. If you have a black stinky water coming from these areas in your home, contact your local municipality and your insurance agent or company. If you have insurance coverage, a restoration company should clean up the mess. Black water is contaminated and can contain fecal matter and bacteria.

Like sump pump overflow, a standard insurance policy may not provide coverage.

Household leaks

Common household leaks include a burst water pipe or leaking appliance. If you have a water leak in your home, find and close the shutoff valve immediately to prevent further damage. If the shutoff valve near your appliance or plumbing fixture doesn’t work, shut off your water main coming into your house. Depending on your situation, timing is crucial. To find your water main quickly, consider attaching a West Bend Water main tag. To request yours, click here.

Coverage for this type of damage is usually provided in a standard homeowners policy.

Focusing and buying a policy simply on price may leave you with serious coverage gaps. It’s up to you to talk to your independent agent to determine if your policy has any coverage gaps and what’s the appropriate amount of coverage for your home. Finding out during the claim process that you don’t have proper or adequate insurance coverage isn’t a good situation for you or your insurance company.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them; please share them in the box below.




This article is intended for general educational and illustrative purposes only and should not be construed to communicate legal or professional advice. Further, this article is not an offer to sell insurance. Please consult with your licensed insurance agent for specific coverage details and your insurance eligibility. All policies are subject to the terms, conditions, limitations, definitions, and exclusions contained therein.

Topics: Home Insurance, Weather

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