Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?November 1, 2022
How Long Does a Landlord Have to Fix Water DamageNovember 10, 2022
Renting an apartment or house can add confusion about what is and isn’t covered by your renters insurance policy. Some assume their landlord’s insurance policy fully covers them, but that isn’t true. In the event of water damage, you’ll need renters insurance to protect your belongings and provide liability coverage. Today, we discuss in-depth – the question of does renters insurance cover water damage.
In the broadest terms, your renters insurance covers your belongings and liability for damage to others and their property; in contrast, your landlord’s insurance policy covers the structure itself. In short, you cover what you own or are liable for.
In this guide, we’ll explain the specifics of what’s covered, what isn’t, and what happens (and what you need to do) in the event water damage occurs in your rented property.
- What is renters insurance?
- Does renters insurance cover water damage?
- Will renters insurance pay for other lodgings if your apartment is uninhabitable?
- What water damage is your landlord’s policy responsible for?
- How to file a claim for water damage
What is renters insurance?
Renters insurance differs from homeowners insurance in that you do not own the property’s structure. You’re, therefore, only covered for your belongings within the property and your liability towards others. That means if you perform any home improvements, e.g., painting the walls or installing new fixtures, these will not be covered under your renters insurance policy.
You will be reimbursed for the following:
- Damage to your personal belongings. Like homeowners insurance, damage or theft of your belongings (items not attached or built in the rental property) is fully covered, e.g., furniture or clothing.
- Damage to others and their property. Should someone get hurt or their property become damaged in your rented space, you are covered for any liability you may hold.
- Temporary accommodation. If your property becomes uninhabitable, your renters insurance will pay for temporary accommodation until you can return (see below).
Does renters insurance cover water damage?
Renters insurance covers specific types of water damage that can affect your personal property. Most renters insurance policies will cover water damage due to the following:
- Toilet overflows
- Leaks from appliances, for example, a rupture or line failure to a refrigerator, dishwasher, or washing machine. Other appliances covered include water heaters or air conditioning units.
- Burst or frozen pipes are covered unless negligence is shown, e.g., not adequately heating the property.
- Malfunctioning fire sprinklers.
- Water damage from rain, windstorms, or hail is covered as long as you act to avoid such damage.
Where things become more complicated is what is not covered. Insurance policies are very specific about their coverage limits, and you should read the terms and conditions to understand where you will be liable for replacement or payments.
Here are some examples of where you are not covered by renters insurance:
- Flooding is a key cause of water damage for which you are not covered. You will need a specific flood insurance policy for any damage caused by hurricanes, tsunamis, storm surges, overflowing rivers, and more.
- Sewer backup is also a major cause of flooding not protected under a standard renters policy. After installing a sump pump, you will need a separate add-on to your renters policy or water backup damage protection.
- Damage caused by carelessness or negligence, for example, leaving a window open, failing to turn off a faucet, or leaving a toilet clogged. Your insurance covers unintentional and unexpected damage.
- Damage from slow leaks or lack of maintenance. While it is a landlord’s responsibility to repair any damage, you should inform them of a leak or broken device in a timely manner.
Will renters insurance pay for other lodgings if your apartment is uninhabitable?
Yes. In some cases, when a rental unit becomes uninhabitable for a short period while repairs are completed, you will be covered for temporary accommodation. This is known as loss-of-use coverage.
According to insurance.com, loss-of-use coverage is usually calculated in two ways:
- A percentage of your overall coverage level — for example, 40% of $100,000 in coverage.
- A flat amount, often just $3,000 to $5,000 of coverage.
You should know how much loss-of-use coverage your policy extends and ensure it is adequate to cover an extended period away from your rental unit.
What water damage is your landlord’s policy responsible for?
Your landlord owns the physical structure you rent, be it a house or apartment. That’s what their insurance policy covers – nothing more or less. Your landlord is not responsible for your personal belongings, nor are they responsible for your liabilities.
If your landlord provided you with any furnishings or appliances in the tenancy agreement, these are covered by the landlord’s policy and not your renters insurance.
How to file a claim for water damage
You should never file an insurance claim unless A) you believe you are covered or B) you believe the reimbursement is worth the cost of higher premiums. For example: if a roof leak destroys your furniture and electrical equipment, you’re likely to be reimbursed for the damage up to your policy limit, whereas a flood that damages those same items will not yield any reimbursement.
When filling a claim, you should:
- Immediately report the incident to the relevant authorities, such as the police and your landlord.
- Submit a claim to your insurance company – often, this can be completed online.
- Document the damage via photos and videos. You will also need to conduct an inventory of your damaged belongings.
- You will need to save receipts if you purchase replacement items or make repairs.
- Speak to the insurance company about receiving repairs or replacements of damaged items as soon as possible.
Following your claim, an insurance adjuster will review your claim and even visit your home. They will decide whether to approve your claim and how much to pay.
If your home has undergone water damage, contact United Restoration immediately. We deal with all forms of water and mold damage (and dehumidification) – call us at (844) 979-8500.