Does Homeowners Insurance Cover a Flooded Basement?

Knowing which types of water damage your home insurance policy covers can help you avoid filing unnecessary claims.
Christine Lacagnina Written by Christine Lacagnina
Christine Lacagnina
Written by Christine Lacagnina

Christine Lacagnina has written thousands of insurance-based articles for by authoring consumable, understandable content.

Reviewer: Jeffrey Green Reviewed by Jeffrey Green
Reviewer: Jeffrey Green
Reviewed by Jeffrey Green

Jeff Green has held a variety of sales and management roles at life insurance companies, Wall street firms, and distribution organizations over his 40-year career.  He was previously Finra 7,24,66 registered and held life insurance licenses in multiple states. He is a graduate of Stony Brook University.

Water damage caused by defective washing machine. Flooded basement.

A flooded basement can ruin not only your day but also your personal property and even part of the structure of your home. Wet carpeting might not be your biggest concern after a basement flood because your homeowners insurance may not cover the damage, depending on the source of the water. It's key to understand which types of water damage and floods are covered by home insurance well before an incident occurs.

Luckily, an independent insurance agent can help you find the right type of home insurance and other coverages necessary for basement floods. They'll get you covered against these disasters and many others. But until then, here's an overview of when home insurance covers basement floods.

When Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Basement Floods?

Only a few causes of water damage within the home are covered by homeowners insurance. Your insurance company will consider the source of the flooding to your basement or other parts of the home when determining if a claim will be covered. Here's exactly when and what home insurance can cover regarding basement floods:

  • Broken pipes: Broken plumbing can be considered an accident by homeowners insurance, and a resulting basement flood would likely be covered by home insurance.
  • Broken appliances: Air conditioning units or sprinkler systems that accidentally break and lead to water damage are another cause of covered flooding by home insurance.
  • Overflowing structures: A sink or tub in your home that overflows and causes a basement flood might be covered by home insurance if the incident could be determined to have been sudden and accidental.

According to insurance expert Jeffrey Green, even with these causes of basement flooding, your home insurance coverage would pay to repair the water damage but not the unit or system itself. So, if your washing machine breaks and floods your basement, you could receive reimbursement for the water damage, but you'd still be on the hook for replacing the appliance yourself.


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When Homeowners Insurance Doesn't Cover Flood Damage

In many other cases of home flooding, you'd most likely need a separate policy called flood insurance to get any reimbursement for damage. All water damage is excluded from home insurance except accidental water damage resulting from a broken pipe or other plumbing appliance. Other causes of basement flooding or water damage are excluded from home insurance.

These causes of basement flooding are not covered by home insurance:

  • Heavy rainfall and other storms: Only flood insurance covers water damage and flooding caused by natural sources such as storms and melted snow.
  • Sump pumps: Unless you specifically purchased an endorsement for your sump pump to add to your home insurance policy, water damage resulting from a broken sump pump would be excluded.
  • Sewage backups: Sewer backup coverage is another available endorsement that can be added to home insurance, but without it, your policy won't cover water damage related to a backed-up sewer.
  • Foundation leaks: Home insurance doesn't cover water damage in older homes with cracked foundations or in homes that weren't constructed properly, resulting in seepage through the foundation.
  • Lack of maintenance: It's the homeowner's responsibility to maintain their home, so insurance companies won't cover water damage caused by failure to keep up with repairs for your plumbing, etc.

Being familiar with all the instances in which home insurance doesn't cover water damage can help you avoid potential shocks after a disaster. To prevent losses from many types of flooding and water damage, get equipped with a flood insurance policy ahead of time. 

Make sure to ask your independent insurance agent about adding flood insurance to further protect your home against many sources of flooding, including heavy rainfall and more. However, understand that not all flood insurance policies include coverage for below-ground structures like basements, so you'll need to be specific in your search. 

Does Home Insurance Cover Damage to a Basement Caused by Groundwater?

"Groundwater" can refer to water stemming from natural sources underground. These water levels can increase after a storm with heavy rainfall or after a winter storm that results in melting snow and ice. Since these sources of water are natural, a home insurance policy won't cover basement floods caused by groundwater.

Additional Coverages to Consider to Help Protect against Flooding

Fortunately, there are additional coverages that can be added to your home insurance to protect against many different types of water damage and basement flooding. Look into adding these types of coverage to help get the reimbursement you need after a basement flood:

  • Flood insurance: Flood insurance is sold as a separate coverage, available through FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program as well as private insurers. Flood coverage is an essential element to consider adding to your home insurance, especially if you live in a flood zone. Make sure to look for a policy that includes coverage for basements, however.
  • Endorsements: Sewer backup and sump pump failure/water backup endorsements are optional coverages that you can add to your home insurance policy. They're designed to cover water damage, etc., caused by backed-up sewers or sump pumps, which is excluded by regular home insurance.

Talk to your independent insurance agent about any concerns you may have about basement floods or other types of flooding within or around your home. They can help you add all the extra policies and endorsements you need to be fully protected.


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How Do I Know If I Need Flood Insurance?

If you're concerned about your home flooding, you might want to look into getting flood insurance. But there are a few key risk factors that could make you want to add coverage sooner rather than later, including:

  • If you live in a designated flood zone
  • If you're required to purchase coverage by your mortgage lender, which is likely the case if you live in a high-risk flood zone
  • If you can't afford to pay $25,000, or the average amount of damage that just one inch of standing water in the home can cause, out of your own pocket

Consider buying flood insurance ASAP since there's a 30-day waiting period before coverage becomes effective. Also, be sure to review these examples of when your home insurance will and won't cover basement flooding and other types of water damage. Unexpected home flooding happens frequently and can be extremely costly, so you might not be able to afford to go without the right coverage for long.

Why Work with an Independent Insurance Agent?

Independent insurance agents simplify the process by shopping and comparing home and flood insurance quotes for you. Not only that, but they’ll also cut through the jargon and clarify the fine print so you'll know exactly what you’re getting.

Independent insurance agents also have access to multiple insurance companies, ultimately finding you the best home insurance and flood insurance coverage, accessibility, and competitive pricing while working for you.

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