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Bellingham Bulletin

Rain, Rain, Go Away, Cause a Claim Another Day

May 31, 2019 06:00AM ● By Pamela Johnson

Did the water damage come via the roof or ceiling, or did it come across the ground? Therein lies the difference.

Water-damage insurance claims can be complicated. How can rainwater from the same storm be covered for one thing but not another? Let’s do a quick quiz and then brush up on the reasoning behind all this water madness.

Question 1: A large rainstorm causes leaks in your roof, and water comes through your ceiling.  Your ceiling is stained and your upstairs has water coming down your bedroom walls; is the damage covered?  Answer: Yes, it’s covered.  

Question 2: The same rainstorm caused a puddle outside your bulkhead and water leaked into your basement, damaging your carpet, floorboards, and furniture; is this damage covered? Answer: No, it’s not covered.

Question 3:  Using the scenario from Question 2, let’s assume that you have a sump pump in your basement to pump out the water coming into the basement. While the sump pump is pumping away the excess water, it breaks down, and the water backs up into the basement, causing damage. Is damage from the backed-up water covered? Answer:  No, it’s not covered.  However, you can buy coverage for such an eventuality.
 
In Question 1, the water coming through the roof, dripping from the ceiling and down the walls, would all be covered for the damage it caused. This is because the rainwater has not touched the ground yet. As long as the water is on the roof it is still considered rainwater. Once the rainwater touches the ground, everything changes.

In Question 2, concerning damage from the same storm, the water is coming from across the ground. Once the rain hits the earth, insurance companies consider it groundwater. Damage caused from groundwater falls under flood damage, which no homeowner’s insurance policy covers. In order to have coverage in this case, a homeowner would need to have purchased a flood policy separately through the National Flood Insurance Program.
 
In Question 3, the sump pump protecting against groundwater and flooding breaks and causes damage to the basement. Traditionally an unendorsed homeowner policy would not provide coverage for the damages. However, for an additional fee, insurance companies will offer coverage for the sump pump’s breaking down during this scenario and water damage occurring. This coverage is fairly expensive and usually covers between $2,500 and $5,000 in damages. The added cost is usually a hundred dollars or more because companies know that if you have this problem once, you will likely have it again.

In summary, it is important to ask yourself where and how the water came into the home.  Did the water come from the roof or ceiling? If it did, then there is usually coverage for the damage.  Did the water come across the ground?  If so, there usually is no regular coverage since this is considered flooding; you would have to have flood insurance. 

This article was written by Paul Ostrander (left) of Ostrander Insurance, located at 94 David Road (across from the Bellingham post office on Rte. 140). For additional information, contact Ostrander at 508-966-1116, email paul@ostranderinsurance.com, or visit OstranderInsurance.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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