Does home insurance cover flooded basements?

Homeowners insurance covers your basement if it’s damaged due to a burst pipe, but it won’t cover water damage caused by a flood, sewage backup, or old plumbing.

Kara McGinley

By

Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is a senior editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

Updated|4 min read

Policygenius content follows strict guidelines for editorial accuracy and integrity. Learn about our editorial standards and how we make money.

Homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage, but it does cover certain types of water damage, depending on the cause. If your basement floods, in order to be covered the water damage will have had to happen suddenly and accidentally, like from a burst pipe. 

Key takeaways

  • If a pipe bursts or a bathtub accidentally overflows and damages your basement, your homeowners insurance may cover you.

  • A separate flood insurance policy can protect your home and personal property from flood damage, but coverage for your basement is typically limited.

  • You should consider adding water backup coverage to your home policy to protect your home and basement in the event of sump pump or sewage backup.

Ready to shop home insurance?

Start calculator

Does homeowners insurance cover a flooded basement?

Standard homeowners insurance doesn’t automatically include any form of flood insurance coverage. Below are instances when homeowners insurance will cover water damage to a basement — and when it won’t. 

Home

When a flooded basement may be covered …

  • Burst pipe

  • Tub or sink overflow

  • Appliance leak, like a washing machine

  • Malicious activity, like vandalism

  • Separate peril, like water damage after a fire

Home

When a flooded basement isn’t covered …

  • Flood 

  • Sewage or drainage backup

  • Sump pump overflow

  • Maintenance issues

When does homeowners insurance cover a flooded basement?

Homeowners insurance may cover water damage to your basement if it's deemed “sudden and internal,” meaning it was unpreventable and the source of damage came from inside your home, like a burst pipe.

Here are a few causes of a flooded basement that would likely be covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy.

Plumbing

Homeowners insurance covers water damage caused by the accidental leakage of plumbing. That means if a pipe bursts in the middle of the night and damages everything in your basement, your homeowners insurance may help pay for repairs.

However, homeowners insurance does not cover maintenance issues or general wear and tear. So if your pipe bursts because it’s old or you didn’t properly maintain it, you wouldn’t be covered.

Accidental overflow of water from a tub or sink

If your tub overflows or your sink is accidentally left on and the water floods your basement, your homeowners insurance may cover you.

Appliance leakage

If an appliance that is connected to plumbing in your home, like an air conditioning system or a water heater, suddenly leaks and damages your basement, your homeowners insurance may cover you. Again, if the piping or appliance breaks due to negligence or maintenance issues, you wouldn’t be covered.

Ready to shop home insurance?

Start calculator

Damage caused by a separate peril

If your basement floods due to a separate covered peril like fire or windstorms, your homeowners insurance may help pay for repairs. 

For example, if your house catches fire and firefighters have to extinguish the fire using water hoses, your homeowners insurance can cover both the fire and water damage that was incurred. 

Or if a hail or windstorm shatters a few windows in your basement and rainwater gets in, your homeowners insurance may pay for repairs that the hailstorm caused.

Malicious activity

Homeowners insurance covers damage that’s caused by malicious activity, like vandalism, break-ins, or rioting. If someone breaks into your home and leaves the water running which results in your basement flooding, your homeowners insurance may still cover you.

When doesn't homeowners insurance cover a flooded basement?

Homeowners insurance does not cover flooding, which means if a hurricane, named storm, or tidal wave floods your basement, your homeowners insurance wouldn’t pay for the damage. In order for flood damage to be covered, you’d need a separate flood insurance policy (more on that later). 

Here are a few common instances when homeowners insurance won’t cover water damage.

Floods or rising rainwater

Homeowners insurance excludes coverage for some natural disasters, including floods. If a flood leads to water filling your basement and your personal property is damaged, you wouldn’t be able to file a claim with your homeowners insurance company.

Seepage of groundwater

After a heavy rainfall, groundwater can seep through to your home’s foundation. This type of water damage isn’t covered by homeowners insurance and may not be covered by flood insurance unless it was directly caused by a flood.

Sewage backup

If sewage or water backs up into your basement, your homeowners insurance won’t cover the damage unless you have additional coverage, like a water backup endorsement.

Sump pump flooding

If you have a sump pump in your basement to protect it from flooding and that sump pump fails, your homeowners insurance likely excludes coverage for the sump pump itself along with the water damage it causes — unless you have an endorsement on your policy that extends coverage to sump pump failure.

Maintenance issues

Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover maintenance issues or damage that occurs over time. 

For example, if an old pipe had been leaking and you never got around to repairing it and it eventually bursts, you’d be on the hook for the cost of repairs to your flooded basement. Pests are also considered maintenance issues, so if a pipe bursts in your basement because of a rat or mouse infestation, the damage likely won’t be covered.

Flood insurance coverage for basements

You can purchase separate flood policies or add endorsements to your homeowners policy to make sure you’re protected against certain flood risks.

Flood insurance

If you live in an area that is high risk for flooding, you may want to consider purchasing a standalone flood insurance policy. However, flood insurance only offers limited coverage when it comes to protecting basements or any underground area of your home, which means anything that is stored or located in your basement — like your furniture, appliances, flooring, and TVs — likely aren’t fully protected under a flood insurance policy.

You may be able to increase your amount of dwelling flood insurance coverage to extend more protection to your basement, but it depends on your flood insurance company.

Water backup coverage

Water backup coverage is a popular endorsement that protects you from water damage due to a sewage, sump pump, or drainage backup. It’s also a relatively inexpensive endorsement, costing around $30 per year, which makes it a smart addition for most homeowners. It’s important to note that this type of coverage won’t pay to fix or replace your sump pump, just the water damage it may cause.

Ready to shop home insurance?

Start calculator

Frequently asked questions

Does homeowners insurance cover flooding from rain?

Homeowners insurance does not cover flooding, so if a hurricane brings rain that floods your home or basement, you wouldn’t be covered. Groundwater damage also isn’t covered by your homeowners policy, so if rain seeps in through your home’s foundation you wouldn’t be covered. That said, if rainwater damages your home due to a covered peril, like if a tree lands on your roof and a rainstorm rolls in, you may be able to file a claim with your homeowners insurance company.

Does renters insurance cover flooded basements?

Renters insurance does not include dwelling coverage — the homeowners policy coverage component that protects the structure of the home — since tenants don’t actually own the building they live in. Renters insurance also excludes coverage for flood damage. But if you rent a home and your personal belongings get damaged by water in the basement, then your belongings may be covered if the water damage was sudden, accidental, and internal — like a burst pipe.

What do you do when you have a flooded basement?

If your basement floods, the first thing you should do is make sure that all the power is off down there — this might entail contacting an electrician. If you have flood insurance, you should take photos of the damage and file a claim. You can try and make temporary repairs by figuring out where the source of the water damage is coming from — like a burst pipe. Make sure you take proper safety precautions before trying to clean up the flooding on your own.

Author

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

gray linkedin icon link

Kara McGinley is a senior editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

Questions about this page? Email us at .