Lately, much of the United States have seen wild swings of severe weather. From the mid 70’s on Saturday to 47 degrees and an inch of rain on Monday, severe weather can wreak havoc on your home. With torrential rains and flash flood in most parts of the Northeast recently, many find themselves asking: my house has suffered water damage, am I covered?

Well, like all good legal responses the answer is, “it depends.” Many homeowners’ policies do not provide coverage for ground water or surface water which seeps into your home. Most policies will not provide coverage for water damage because of a sewer or drain back up or a failed sump pump. However, some policies do have added endorsements which provide coverage for the backup of sewers, drains or sump pumps for a limited amount of money. Many homeowners in the Northeast have suffered large losses from the back up of sewers, drains or sump pumps, so it is important to check your homeowner’s policy for coverage as it relates to water damage from your drainage systems.

Unfortunately, many people are under the mistaken belief that their homeowner’s policy will cover water damage, but that is not the case. Any type of ground or surface water is almost always excluded (you’ll need flood insurance for that). Which means in most cases water damage as a result of flooding from ponds, rivers, bays, oceans, rain, storms, hurricanes and the like are not covered. Some water damage from appliances or frozen pipes may be covered. However, even those claims are not without their exclusions.

Water that accidentally discharges from an appliance that breaks may be covered, but the appliance itself is not. Frozen pipes may be covered so long as you adequately maintain the heat in your home or properly winterize the system. Damage to your roofing system which results in interior water damage may be covered so long as the damage is not the result of wear and tear or deterioration. Some water damage you may not see until it manifests itself as water marks or spots. That water damage may end up being the result of a broken pipe, appliance or toilet. Some policies exclude coverage for water damage that is the result of a hidden or latent defect over a certain period of time. So, if the water was leaking from the toilet upstairs and leaks downstairs over a period of weeks or months, you may not be covered.

If at this time you find yourself asking, “what water damage is covered?” Maybe a lot and sometime, not much. While some water damage to a home is covered, as discussed earlier much of the coverages are not without exclusion. Your best option as the consumer is to make sure you read your insurance policies, ask questions and stay abreast of any changes made to your forms.

In the end, if you find yourself with water damage to your home, make sure you get in contact with a licensed public adjuster to help determine where there is damage and to negotiate the benefits necessary to restore your home to its pre-loss condition. Or contact an attorney for a second opinion if your insurance company has denied your claim.