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Although water heaters typically have a lifespan of about 10 to 12 years, they can burst before that point. If this happens, you may file a homeowners insurance claim and discover your policy won’t pay to replace your water heater.
The good news is standard home insurance usually covers water heater damage to your home and personal belongings, as long as your policy covers the event that caused the damage.
Here’s what you need to know about home insurance and water heaters:
Does home insurance cover water heaters?
A standard home insurance policy typically covers damage from a water heater if it’s the result of a covered event, such as a fire or explosion. But it usually doesn’t cover the replacement cost of your water heater itself.
When it comes to water heater damage, the following types of coverage might apply:
- Dwelling coverage: Your dwelling coverage protects your home’s physical structure. If your water heater bursts and causes damage to your walls and floors, for example, your policy can help pay for replacements or repairs. If your water heater is located in a detached structure on your property (like a detached garage), your other structures coverage will kick in.
- Personal property coverage: Personal property coverage will cover your personal belongings, like your furniture, electronics, or bicycle. If your personal property is damaged as a result of your water heater bursting, an insurer may help you repair or replace these items up to your coverage limits.
- Additional living expenses coverage: Additional living expenses coverage, also known as loss of use coverage, helps pay for your living expenses if a covered event temporarily displaces you from your home. If water heater damage makes your home uninhabitable, your insurance provider can help you pay for a hotel, laundry, meals, and other living expenses while your home is being worked on.
Learn More: Home Insurance Exclusions: What’s Not Covered?
Water heater coverage limits
The reimbursement limits for water heater damage to your home vary based on several factors, such as your home insurance policy, your deductible (the amount you pay before your insurance kicks in), and the type of damage your water heater caused.
For example, if your water heater damages your home’s physical structure, your insurer may help repair or replace the damage up to your dwelling coverage limit.
Personal property coverage limits are typically around 70% of your dwelling coverage. So, if your dwelling coverage is $200,000, your personal property coverage limit could be about $140,000.
Your loss of use coverage limit is also based on your dwelling coverage — it’s often set at 20% of your dwelling coverage.
When does home insurance not cover damage from water heaters?
Although home insurance covers damage from water heaters and other appliances caused by a wide range of events, it won’t cover damages in the following scenarios:
- Negligence: Insurance carriers expect you to perform routine maintenance on your water heater. If neglect leads to damages, your home insurance won’t cover it.
- Normal wear and tear: Over time, your water heater will break down due to general wear and tear. If damages occur because your hot water heater is beyond a certain age or no longer functioning properly, your insurance carrier won’t help you.
- Intentional damage: Home insurance policies don’t cover intentional damage that you or a member of your household cause.
Tip: The majority of manufacturers recommend that you flush or perform maintenance on your water heater once a year or every few years, according to the City of Portland. This can extend your water heater’s lifespan.
Additional water heater coverages
Although basic home insurance typically covers water heater damage under many circumstances, it doesn’t cover everything. Consider purchasing the following additional coverages to maximize your protection against water heater damage:
- Equipment breakdown coverage: Although standard home insurance may cover the damage that your water heater causes, it won’t pay to repair or replace your water heater itself. You can purchase equipment breakdown coverage to help cover these costs if your water heater breaks down due to an unexpected electrical or mechanical issue.
- Flood insurance: Standard home insurance doesn’t provide coverage for flood damage. This means your home insurance policy won’t cover any damages to your water heater or your home that occur from flooding. To protect your home against flood damage, you’ll have to purchase a separate flood insurance policy from a private insurance carrier or the National Flood Insurance Program.
- Earthquake insurance: Home insurance doesn’t protect your home against earthquakes, either. If you live in an earthquake-prone area, you can purchase a separate earthquake insurance policy to protect your home and water heater against potential damage.
Check Out: How Much Does Flood Insurance Cost?
How to file a claim for water heater damage
The process for filing a claim varies by insurer, but you usually need to follow these steps to file a homeowners insurance claim for water heater damage:
- Document the damage. Take photos and videos of the water heater damage to share with your insurance provider.
- Make emergency repairs. Protect your property against additional damages by making temporary repairs — just don’t perform any permanent repairs yourself. Save receipts for anything you spend money on, as your insurer may be able to reimburse you later.
- Contact your insurance carrier. Reach out to your insurer by phone or online as soon as possible to start the claims process. A claims representative can walk you through how to file a claim and answer any questions you may have regarding coverage.
- Fill out claims forms. Complete the necessary claims forms in a timely manner to speed up the claims process.
- Meet with the claims adjuster. Your insurance carrier will likely send a claims adjuster to your home to assess the damage.
- Review settlement offer. If your insurance provider approves your claim, you should receive an offer from your insurer to help pay for the water heater damage. Review it carefully before you agree to it.
Disclaimer: All insurance-related services are offered through Young Alfred.