Does Renters Insurance Cover Water Damage?

Finding water damage in your home is never a good situation, especially if it destroys your personal belongings. If you’re wondering does renters insurance cover water damage, here’s the answer — it depends.

Your renters insurance policy will cover certain types of water damage, but not all. And if there’s a structural issue that is causing a leak, the liability falls on your landlord to cover it. Keep reading to learn what water damage renters insurance covers and how to submit a water damage claim.

[ Read: How Much Renters Insurance Do I Need? ]

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      What are the most common water damages?

      Water damage is a relatively common issue in homes and apartments. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), roughly one in 50 homes has a water damage or freezing-related claim every year. In 2018, 23.8% of property insurance claims were related to water damage or freezing, with an average claim payout of $10,849.

      Most renters think that water damage is only caused by roof leaks or faulty plumbing. In reality, there are a number of circumstances that can cause water damage, many of which can damage or destroy your personal items.

       Some of the most common water damages include:

      • Plumbing issues
      • Sump pump or sewer backup
      • Accidental water overflow
      • Appliance leaks
      • HVAC issues
      • Clogged gutters
      • Heavy rainfall 
      • Leaky or frozen pipes
      • Flooding

      Does renters insurance cover water damages? 

      Renters insurance does cover water damage, but it depends on the cause and the type of policy you have. Some damages are covered, and others are not. If you have an open peril policy, it’s more likely that you are covered for water damage because you aren’t restricted to a specific list of losses. Named peril policies usually have less coverage for water damage and may exclude water damage coverage altogether.

      Also, keep in mind that your renters insurance policy only applies to your personal belongings. It doesn’t cover the physical building you live in — that’s what your landlord’s home insurance is for. If your toilet suddenly overflows and causes water damage in your bathroom, it’s probably covered by your renters insurance policy. On the other hand, if you live in a top floor apartment and notice a small leak coming from the attic, your landlord’s insurance will pay to repair it.

      [ Read: How to Buy Cheap Renters Insurance Online ]

      What types of water damage are covered by renters insurance? 

      Some types of water damage are covered by renters insurance, but not all. If you need to file a claim, it’s important to check your policy statements to find out exactly what is and isn’t covered.

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      Water damages that are covered by renters insurance

      Named peril insurance policies include coverage for specific losses that are listed in your policy documents. These usually include:

      • Ice and freezing: If your pipes freeze during the winter months and it causes a leak or other means of water damage, your renters insurance policy will cover it.
      • Accidental water discharge: Accidental water discharge happens when a toilet overflows, a pipe bursts or an appliance leaks suddenly and causes damage.
      • Steam: Steam from a hot water tank or floorboard heater can cause water damage, which is usually covered by renters insurance.
      • Heavy rain: Heavy rain can cause water damage, especially if there are internal leaks in the roof or structure of the home. 

      If you have an open peril policy, you are covered in any situation that is not explicitly excluded from your renters insurance policy. That means you aren’t limited to any named perils. However, open peril policies do have constraints, which we’ll go over in the next section.

      Water damages that are not covered by renters insurance 

      Your renters insurance policy does not cover water damage in every situation, even if you have an open peril policy. These are the water damages that are never covered by renters insurance:

      • Flooding: Flooding is not covered by renters insurance. If you live in a high-risk flood area, you can purchase a separate flood insurance policy for flood protection.
      • Wear and tear: Water damage that results from wear and tear, like a clogged toilet you’ve been ignoring, is not covered by insurance.
      • Sewage water: Sump pump failure or water backup is not covered by renters insurance. Most insurance companies offer an endorsement if you want sump pump or water backup coverage.
      • Damage that occurs when the home is uninhabited: Any water damage that occurs when the home is not being lived in is usually excluded from coverage. 

      If you’re worried about water damage in your home, ask your renters insurance provider about endorsements or add-on policies that can boost your coverage. Keep in mind that if you live in a flood-prone area, your landlord may require you to carry flood insurance before you sign a lease.

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        [ Read: 3 Reasons Why You Should Get Flood Insurance ]

        How to submit a water damage claim? 

        Submitting a water damage claim is much like filing any other renters insurance claim. Here is a step-by-step overview of the process:

        • Document the damage: First, document the damage. Take pictures of the damage to the interior of your home and damage to your personal belongings. Make sure to document the source of the damage, like a burst pipe, if you can easily see it.
        • Contact your insurance company: Call your insurance company and start the claim process. They will ask you to share the evidence of the damage, fill out some paperwork and go over what your policy covers.
        • Notify your landlord: It’s also a good idea to notify your landlord of the damage. Chances are, the landlord will need to get involved in the situation, whether it’s sending a plumber to fix a leak or replacing a leaky roof.
        • Wait for approval: The last step is to wait for your claim to get approved. Once your payout is determined, you’ll receive compensation to replace your damaged items.

        We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

        Elizabeth Rivelli

        Contributing Writer

        Elizabeth is a contributor to The Simple Dollar, where she reviews insurance providers and policies. She has more than three years of experience writing for top online insurance and finance publications, including Bankrate, Coverage.com and Reviews.com.

        Reviewed by

        • Nashalie Addarich
          Nashalie Addarich
          Insurance Editor

          Nasha Addarich is an editor at The Simple Dollar and a former attorney who specializes in home insurance, auto insurance, life insurance, and savings. She is a former contributing editor to Reviews.com.