In most cases, your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover damage from a burst water heater, but not the water heater itself. As with any coverage on your policy, the damage must have been caused by a covered peril such as fire, wind, or lightning. It is critical that you read your policy’s exclusions to understand what is not covered when it comes to your water heater.
Table of Contents
- The Importance of a Functioning Water Heater
- How Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Heaters?
- Types of Hot Water Heater Coverage
- How to File a Homeowners Insurance Claim for Your Water Heater
- Other Water Heater Coverage Options
- Preventing Water Heater Issues
- Putting It All Together
- Frequently Asked Questions
The Importance of a Functioning Water Heater
The water heater is essential to every home, providing hot water. Besides heating and storing water, they also allow you to bathe, clean, and cook comfortably. Water heaters can sometimes fail, leading to leaks, insufficient heating, or even bursts.
In addition to causing significant damage to your home where it is located, a burst water heater can be a safety hazard and expensive to fix. Knowing how your homeowner’s insurance policy will respond to a burst water heater can help give you a sense of peace during an otherwise stressful ordeal.
How Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Heaters?
Your homeowner’s insurance policy will pay to repair damages caused by a water heater leak as long as it is because of a covered peril. The water heater itself is not covered. During a water heater-covered event, the following coverages could apply:
- Dwelling Coverage: Damage to the structure of your home is covered under the dwelling coverage part of your policy. So, if your water heater leaks and damages the floor or walls, this coverage part will pay for the repair or replacement.
- Personal Property Coverage: If you turn your house upside down, anything that falls out would be considered personal property. If the leaky water heater damages your Christmas decorations, they will be replaced under personal property coverage.
- Additional Living Expenses Coverage: Water heater damage may fall under loss of use if your home is inhabitable. Loss of use coverage is additional living expenses and will pay for you to stay at a hotel or other rental place, as well as other expenses that come with being unable to stay in your home.
Types of Hot Water Heater Coverage
Due to excessive pressure, overheating, or corrosion, water heaters can explode or leak. Depending on the circumstances, your homeowner’s policy may cover these incidents. It’s essential to understand the inclusions and exclusions of your insurance policy in case your water heater malfunctions or is damaged by a leak or burst.
Hot Water Heater Damage
An insurance policy generally covers sudden and accidental damage caused by bursts and leaks. A standard homeowner’s policy typically covers flooring, walls, and personal property damage. Damage caused by lack of maintenance, everyday wear and tear, or gradual leaks may not be covered.
Hot Water Heater Replacement
A water heater is typically not covered by homeowners insurance policies. Insurance usually does not cover water heater replacements due to age, malfunction, or normal wear and tear. In most cases, routine appliance replacements or upgrades are your responsibility. Your water heater may be covered under a home warranty if it is newer or you purchased one when you bought your house.
When Does Homeowners Insurance Not Cover Water Heaters?
While homeowner’s insurance policies can vary with each insurance carrier, as well as being specific to your home, coverage will typically be excluded for the following situations:
- Intentional Damage: If you damage your water heater on purpose or do something else intentionally that causes damage, this will be excluded. This includes all members of your home.
- Negligence: As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to perform routine maintenance on your appliances. If your water heater is neglected and causes damage, this will also be excluded from coverage.
- Normal Wear and Tear: Normal wear and tear is a part of your home ownership and can, unfortunately, sometimes result in damages. It could be excluded if your water heater damages your home due to its age.
How to File a Homeowners Insurance Claim for Your Water Heater
Most insurance companies have a similar process for filing a claim, so as long as you follow these steps, you can get a claim reported and find out if your damages are covered rather quickly.
- Compile documentation: Document all the damage by taking notes, photos, and videos. The more documentation you can provide to the insurer, the better.
- Repair emergency damage: Understandably, you want repairs done as soon as possible, but at this stage, only do those that are an emergency. If you do make repairs, be sure to save your receipts.
- Call the insurer or start an online claim: Some carriers will take claims over the phone, and some prefer that you submit it online. Provide all the documentation you have.
- Complete forms: The insurer may request that you complete claims forms, so do these at your earliest convenience so you don’t delay the claims process.
- Work with adjuster: The company will assign an adjuster to your claim, and they will come to your home to look at the damage and determine if coverage is available.
- Approve offer: If coverage is available, you will receive an offer for repair or replacement and will be asked to agree. Review it carefully and ask any questions before you do. Then, make your repairs.
Other Water Heater Coverage Options
Your homeowner’s insurance policy can cover water heater damages in many cases, but not always. Here are some other options to consider:
Under a home warranty, major home systems and appliances are covered for repairs and replacements due to normal wear and tear. Unlike homeowners insurance, it protects against mechanical failures rather than accidental damage or disasters. A home warranty can cover repairs or replacements when a water heater fails due to age or wear and tear.
Equipment Breakdown Coverage
Equipment breakdown coverage is usually an additional endorsement added to homeowners insurance that covers appliance repairs and replacements, like a water heater. Non-accidental damage, including mechanical or electrical failures, is covered by equipment breakdown. Since a standard homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover the costs associated with equipment breakdowns that are not sudden and accidental, this endorsement helps in that area.
Specifically designed to cover earthquake damage, earthquake insurance covers earthquake-related losses. Structures can shift, or debris can fall during an earthquake, causing water heater damage. You can get earthquake insurance to cover repairing or replacing a water heater damaged by an earthquake.
Homeowner’s insurance typically excludes flood damage coverage. A standalone flood insurance policy is available to cover this type of loss. Water heaters can be damaged or destroyed by floods. In the event that a flood causes damage to your water heater, flood insurance may be able to cover the costs of repairing or replacing it. Flood insurance must be purchased separately from homeowner’s insurance and is encouraged if you live in a flood zone.
Preventing Water Heater Issues
As a homeowner, there are some simple things you can do to prevent water heater damage.
- Regular Maintenance: Performing regular maintenance on your water heater can prevent a claim and prolong its life. Because sediment and mineral deposits happen over time, flushing your water heater every 6 months can help avoid leaks and bursts.
- Temperature Monitoring: Monitoring the temperature of your water periodically can help you determine issues early on. If your temperature is not at its typical level, that can indicate a problem.
- Pressure Release Valve Inspection: Check your pressure relief valve for any obstructions, leaks, or corrosion.
- Insulation: You can help your water heater work smarter and not harder by having insulation on your pipes.
- Leak Detection and Monitoring: There are several leak detection systems you can install which will alert you if water begins to leak from the water heater. Because you may not check it every day, this is a great option to prevent severe damage so you can stop a leak right away.
- Overflow Pan Installation: Water heaters can sit inside of an overflow pan so that if it does leak, it will catch in the pan avoiding damage to your home and personal property.
Putting It All Together
It is common for water heaters to last 10 to 12 years, but they can burst or leak before that. You may discover that your homeowner’s insurance won’t pay to replace your water heater if this happens due to age, negligence, or intentional damage.
Standard home insurance typically covers water heater damage to your home and personal property as long as your policy covers the event that caused the damage. You should read your policy thoroughly to know what these covered events are and what exclusions are. That way, you won’t be blindsided by assuming something is covered and finding out it is not at claim time.