When you think of Florida, you probably also think of water. We’re lucky to have gorgeous rivers, lakes, and the ocean practically right on our doorstep. Unfortunately, we also have the ever-present threat of water damage—whether from leaks, flooding, or sewer backup.
Florida residents file thousands of water damage claims every year. Water damage claims are second only to wind and hail claims in frequency. The high cost of water damage claims is one of the factors contributing to higher insurance premiums for everyone, and because of this, most homeowners insurance companies now put restrictions and limits on water damage coverage.
Here are three things you should know about water damage.
Water damage is expensive
The average home insurance claim for water damage is $11,098, and nationwide household water damage claims cost up to $20 billion each year. One inch of water can cause more than $25,000 worth of damage.
Water damage isn’t always covered by homeowners insurance
Water damage causes include burst pipes, leaks (either plumbing or roof), appliance failures, sewer backup, and flooding. Homeowners policies generally cover the “sudden and accidental discharge of water,” such as from a burst pipe, accidental overflow of an appliance or fixture, or water damage done in the course of putting out a fire. They won’t cover water damage caused by maintenance issues or failure to make repairs. Frequently, there is no coverage for water damage if mold is present or it is clear that the damage has been in existence for 14 days or more without being fixed. The key is that the problem must be sudden and accidental, not an ongoing maintenance/repair issue.
Sewer backup isn’t covered by most Florida homeowners policies, but you can add coverage via endorsement for a nominal amount of money.
What about water damage from flooding? Flood damage is not covered under a Florida homeowners insurance policy, regardless of the cause of the flooding. If you need flood coverage, you can buy a separate flood insurance policy.
When shopping for homeowners insurance, be sure to read your potential policy carefully, and ask your agent to explain any water damage exclusions or restrictions if you have questions.
You can help prevent water damage
There are some home maintenance tasks you should do to minimize significant water damage to your home, including:
· Inspect your roof for missing or damaged shingles and make repairs if necessary.
· Caulk and seal windows.
· Inspect and maintain your plumbing system.
· Know the location of the main water shut-off valve to your home. Being able to shut off the water quickly can minimize damage if a pipe or hose bursts.
· Replace your traditional water heater every 10 years.
· Shut off the water supply to your washing machine when you go out of town.
· Don’t leave the house when the dishwasher or washing machine are running.
· Check that gutters and downspouts are clear, and that water drains away from your foundation.
· Install a humidity sensor in areas where a leak might occur, such as near a washing machine or dishwasher.
· Install a wireless water valve—these monitor water flow and usage and can potentially alert you to a leak.
Let Lakewood Financial help
If you’re in the market for a new homeowners insurance policy, you want to know that you have the appropriate coverage for your needs, including water damage coverage. We know sorting through insurance information can be confusing. That’s where we can help. Please consider independent insurance agency Lakewood Financial for all your insurance needs, including homeowners insurance. We have many years of experience serving the communities of Sarasota, Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch and surrounding areas. Give us a call at 941-747-4600, or click here to contact us online.