Does homeowners insurance cover foundation issues?

Yes — homeowners insurance covers foundation issues caused by covered perils like tornadoes or fallen trees. But the natural settling of your foundation isn’t covered.

Kara McGinleyPat Howard 1600

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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.

&Pat Howard

Pat Howard

Managing Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Pat Howard is a managing editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where he specializes in homeowners insurance. His work and expertise has been featured in MarketWatch, Real Simple, Fox Business, VentureBeat, This Old House, Investopedia, Fatherly, Lifehacker, Better Homes & Garden, Property Casualty 360, and elsewhere.

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Kristi Sullivan, CFP®

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Kristi Sullivan, CFP®, is a certified financial planner and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius. Previously, she was a regional consultant at Fidelity Investments for nine years.

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Homeowners insurance covers foundation repair when it’s caused by a covered peril, like a tornado, fire, or fallen tree. But damage due to earthquakes, flooding, concrete settling, and normal wear and tear usually isn't covered. 

Does homeowners insurance cover repairs to your foundation?

Your home insurance policy will pay for repairs to the foundation and basic structure of your home including its frame, walls, and roof when it’s damaged due to a covered peril.

To determine the cause of your foundation issues, your best bet is to bring in a foundation specialist to investigate the problem. They can help you nail down the root cause of the damage, how extensive it is, and how much it would cost to fix. Their report will come in handy if you decide to file a claim with your insurance company.

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When is foundation repair covered by homeowners insurance?

Your homeowners insurance policy will list every hazard or cause of damage that your insurer will cover. To see if your home’s foundation damage is covered, you’ll want to check the dwelling portion of your policy coverage form.

In general, if your foundation issues didn’t come about because of any particular event or you notice structural damage that has gradually gotten worse over time, chances are homeowners insurance won’t pay for repairs.

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Causes of foundation issues covered by insurance

  • Lightning or fire

  • Windstorms

  • Fallen trees 

  • Collapse due to the weight of snow, ice, rain, or sleet

  • Water damage from plumbing or HVAC

  • Damage caused by vehicles

  • Explosions

  • Riots or civil disturbances

  • Vandalism

  • Damage caused by aircrafts

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Causes of foundation issues NOT covered by insurance

  • Natural settling, shrinking, bulging, expansion, and cracking of the foundation

  • General wear and tear, marring, and deterioration

  • Earthquakes

  • Flooding

  • Tree root pressure

  • Sinkholes

  • Rodents, insects, and vermin

  • Faulty design or construction

While homeowners insurance won’t cover foundation damage caused by an earthquake or flood, many insurers offer supplemental coverage or separate insurance policies that can help fill in those gaps in protection.

How much will insurance pay for foundation repairs?

When it comes to foundation damage, you’ll be covered up to your policy’s dwelling coverage limits. This is typically anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000 — it all depends on the replacement cost of your home

This should be more than enough to cover repairs to your foundation — the average homeowner pays between $2,000 and $7,500 for foundation repairs, according to 2022 pricing data from HomeAdvisor. [1]  

How to file a home insurance claim for foundation damage

If you suspect your home’s foundation issues are covered by homeowners insurance, you should reach out to your insurance company to file a claim. Here are a few steps to get started:

  1. Reach out to your insurance company ASAP. The sooner you reach out, the sooner you’ll begin the claims process and can find out if insurance will cover the damage.

  2. Take photos and document the damage. Take photos or videos of the affected areas of your home. This will make it far easier to prove your case and get a payout for foundation repairs.

  3. Fill out the claims forms. Your insurance company will likely send a claims adjuster to your home to assess the damage and confirm details about your claim. Once the inspection is complete and your claim is confirmed, an independent contractor will need to survey the damage and give an estimate of repair costs.

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Why are foundation issues more common in older homes?

Foundation issues are more common in older homes for two reasons. The first is that modern, concrete slab foundations that now come standard with most new construction homes weren't popularized until the 1940s. This means any homes built before this time likely have foundations made of posts or beams, which are more prone to damage.

The second reason older homes are more likely to have foundation issues is the simple fact that as time passes, erosion and tree roots cause the soil beneath your home's foundation to move — leading to potential damage.

Signs of foundation damage

When it comes to foundation damage, the signs are usually pretty obvious — like cracks in basement walls or uneven floorboards. Here are a few more to be on the lookout for:

  • Cracks in your home’s sheetrock, tiles, or exterior masonry 

  • Sagging or shifting of floors, walls, ceilings, and support beams

  • A wet crawl space

  • Misaligned doors

  • Insects

How to prevent foundation issues

To prevent foundation issues, pay close attention to the soil moisture on your property. Your home’s foundation moves as the ground expands or contracts, so being able to control water flow and soil moisture on your property is the best measure you can take to prevent foundation damage.

Here are a few more steps you can take to prevent foundation issues:

  • Install drains in your yard. If you begin to notice puddles and wet areas in your yard, look into installing underground drains to siphon the water off of your property.

  • Clean your gutters and spouts. Clogged gutters and drain spouts can affect your home’s roof, as well as its foundation. During a period of heavy precipitation, water in a clogged gutter can spill over and leak down into the soil underneath the home’s foundation.

  • Don’t plant trees too close to your home. Trees that are too close to your home’s exterior can cause major problems for its foundation. When a tree is too close to the house, its roots expand underneath the foundation, drawing in moisture. This causes the soil around your home to expand and contract, leading to shifts and cracks in your foundation.

  • Keep the soil watered. Dry soil can also lead to significant foundation issues. Make sure your yard is regularly watered, especially during dry seasons.

  • Have your foundation inspected. Every couple years, hire a foundation contractor to inspect the condition of your home’s foundation. They may be able to spot issues and warning signs that you’ve missed.

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Frequently asked questions

How much does it cost to fix the foundation of a house?

Most homeowners pay an average of $2,000 to $7,500 for foundation repairs, according to pricing data from HomeAdvisor.

Does homeowners insurance cover structural problems?

Yes, the dwelling coverage portion of your homeowners insurance policy covers damage to the structure of your home, including its foundation. If your foundation or any part of your home’s structure is damaged due to a covered event, homeowners insurance can help pay for repairs or a full rebuild, depending on the extent of the damage.

Can you live in your house while its foundation is being repaired?

This will likely depend on the severity of the foundation damage. If your foundation is sinking into the ground and repairs involve lifting the home up onto a pier and beam foundation, you likely won’t be able to stay in the house. If repairs entail smaller fixes, like filling in cracks, you can likely stay put.

Keep in mind that if your foundation is damaged due to a covered event and you’re forced to stay somewhere else while the house is being repaired, homeowners insurance can help cover the cost of your additional living expenses.

References

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  1. HomeAdvisor

    . "

    How Much Does It Cost To Repair A Foundation?

    ." Accessed March 25, 2022.

Authors

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.

Managing Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Pat Howard

Managing Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

gray twitter icon linkgray linkedin icon link

Pat Howard is a managing editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where he specializes in homeowners insurance. His work and expertise has been featured in MarketWatch, Real Simple, Fox Business, VentureBeat, This Old House, Investopedia, Fatherly, Lifehacker, Better Homes & Garden, Property Casualty 360, and elsewhere.

Expert reviewer

Certified Financial Planner

Kristi Sullivan, CFP®

Certified Financial Planner

gray twitter icon linkgray linkedin icon link

Kristi Sullivan, CFP®, is a certified financial planner and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius. Previously, she was a regional consultant at Fidelity Investments for nine years.

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