More on Home Insurance
More on Home Insurance
Published October 7, 2020
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When it rains, it pours — and if rain damages your home or personal property you may be covered by your homeowners insurance, depending on the circumstances.
Whether or not you’re covered mostly depends on how the rain enters your home and the kind of damage it causes. A standard policy will generally cover water damage from rain if an extreme weather condition causes the rain to enter your home, like if an ice dam causes part of your roof to collapse and rain gets in and damages your belongings. Any rain damage that’s related to another covered peril, like a window that was smashed during a break-in would also likely be covered.
But rainwater that results in a flood would not be covered, nor would rain that gets in through a pre-existing hole in your home. Rain damage caused over time or due to negligence is also not covered. Generally, if the rain damage is related to maintenance issues or poor upkeep of your home and roof, it won’t be covered.
A standard policy typically covers water damage from rain if it enters your home because of damage from another covered peril, like during a windstorm
Any damage from rain that is sudden and accidental may be covered, like if a tree breaks a window and water gets in, but insurers won’t cover gradual damage, like rain leaking in a hole in your roof over time
If your home floods because of heavy rain, the damage wouldn’t be covered. You’d need a separate flood insurance policy to pay for any damage from flooding
Many types of water damage are covered by homeowners insurance, including damage caused by rainwater that enters your home, but that coverage is contingent on the circumstances surrounding the rain damage. Homeowners insurance will generally only cover you if the rain entered your house because of a covered peril.
Wind-driven rain is rain that travels into your home because of high winds or during a storm. A catastrophic weather event like a tornado or hurricane can also drive rain into your home, causing varying degrees of damage to your property and personal belongings along the way. If the wind-driven rain damages your home’s structure or personal belongings, you’ll be covered for the damage. But, again, if your home floods due to heavy rain you would not be covered by standard home insurance.
Homeowners insurance covers damage to your home and personal property from the weight of rain, snow, and ice. If an ice dam forms on your roof and causes it to collapse suddenly, leading to rain and ice entering your home, you'd be covered for both the damage to your roof and for the damage from the rain. The same goes for your home, belongings and other covered structures on your property if they are damaged by the weight of rain, snow, or ice.
Rain that enters the home can lead to mold, and depending on how the rain got in, your homeowners insurance may cover removing the mold. If a tree branch cracks your window and rain comes into your home, leading to mold growing inside your drywall, your homeowners insurance will most likely cover the damage because the initial damage was sudden, and caused by a covered peril. But if you’ve neglected to maintain your leaky roof and rain gets into your top floor causing your ceilings to grow mold, your insurance may not cover you since the water damage was gradual, and was the result of neglect or poor maintenance.
Vandalism is covered by most standard home insurance policies, including if your home is broken into while you're away, and rain comes in through the broken door and damages your belongings. However, an act of vandalism would not be covered if your home has been vacant for 60 days or more, unless you’ve added a vacant home endorsement to your policy.
There are a few circumstances when rainwater damage would not be covered by your home insurance. In fact there are types of damage that are specifically excluded from coverage in the terms of your policy — including:
A standard home insurance policy won’t cover flooding. If a night of heavy rain causes your basement to flood, the water damage would not be covered. To protect your home against floods and storm surges, you should purchase a separate flood insurance policy, which you can usually do through the same company that insures your home.
If rainwater enters your home through an already leaky or damaged roof, your insurer won’t cover the repairs. Any time a poorly maintained structure causes rainwater to damage your home, your homeowners insurance won’t cover associated losses because those structures must be in good condition prior to the event to be eligible for coverage.
Water damage from rain that develops over time is neither sudden or accidental, so it wouldn’t be covered. When rainwater in your home is left unaddressed for weeks or months, the damage has a chance to get worse and new problems can start to develop. If rain slowly drips in through a leaky skylight and you try to file a claim for damage that developed over weeks or months, your insurer may hold you responsible for the damage rather than the rain that initiated it.
If the rain damage is your fault, say you left a window open, or if the rain damage was caused by an issue you knew about and failed to repair, your homeowners insurance wouldn’t cover you. In general, insurance companies won’t cover damage caused by neglect. When rain enters your home through a poorly maintained structure, the rain can cause all sorts of water damage to your home but the neglect is the initial cause for the rain entering and therefore, isn’t covered.
Stephanie Nieves is an insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City, specializing in auto and home insurance. She's been writing about insurance, finance and financial planning since 2018, and loves helping readers get the knowledge they need to make financial decisions with confidence. Her words can also be found on PayScale, Fairygodboss, and The Muse.
Stephanie has a B.A. in writing and rhetoric from Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
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