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    Personal Insurance Blog

    How does a Homeowners Policy cover water in a basement?

    Posted by Geoffrey Gordon

    Sun, Mar 04, 2018 @ 12:47 PM

    The homeowners policy is limited when you get water in your basement.  Flood insurance, if you have it, will provide some help but is often limited to mechanicals (e.g. heating system).  This article will provide some guidance on available coverages as well as what you can do to reduce damage if your basement gets really wet. 


    Your basement is a concrete box stuck in the ground, often below the water table (especially after a big storm), that is designed to keep water out...but it doesn't always succeed.  Water pressure is relentless and often finds its way in, which is why many people who experience wet basements have a sump pump.   A good sump pump will extract water from the lowest point in your basement and pump it outside, away from the house.   But a sump pump doesn't work without power.

    Some homeowners policies have optional limited "sump pump failure" coverage for these circumstances.  Since this insurance is subject to adverse selection (meaning only the people who are especially exposed buy it), it is expensive and limited.  If you don't have sump pump failure coverage and you get water in your basement, your homeowners insurance will be extremely limited.



    How does Flood Insurance  from the NFIP handle flooded basements?

    In another example of underwriting against adverse selection (and flood insurance is another example of adverse selection where spread of risk is absent and risk cost is concentrated), NFIP policies do not provide insurance against any property below grade level except for mechanical systems like your heat.  And if your mechanical systems are indeed in your basement, below grade level, the NFIP will charge for this.


    What can a homeowner do, absent of insurance?

    Extracting the water from your basement should be your first priority

    1. A wet vac (wet vacuum), available at Home Depot, Lowe's, Walmart, and other big box stores, is a good household item able to safely extract water.  Wet vac what you can and open basement doors and windows to let the high humidity air
    2. Put anything wooden on palettes, blocks of wood or concrete pads to prevent water from seeping into furniture or other property. 
    3. Professional remediation contractors have banks of high capacity fans to get water to evaporate and leave the building quickly.  Use any and all fans you have at your disposal once power is restored and turn up your heat to accelerate the process.

    Water is the enemy in any location that is subgrade.  Fans, wet vacs, squeegies, mops, and/or specialists...use whatever and whomever it takes to get the water up and out.

    To discuss your personal homeowners policy with an insurance professional at Gordon Atlantic Insurance call us at (800) 649-3252.  Prefer to type instead of talk?  Click below.



    Tags: Water damage

    How to Avoid Frozen Pipes in the Winter

    Posted by Val Feeney

    Wed, Dec 14, 2016 @ 12:33 PM

    Frozen pipes can cause interior water damage, leading to contractors traipsing through your home, an insurance claim, and possible increased insurance costs down the road. As cold weather settles in, these tips should help you prevent frozen pipes from sending water down your walls, onto your floor, and dripping into lower levels until they unfreeze.

    Here are some tips on how to prevent pipes from freezing in a home or condominium:

    • Thermostat:  During a cold snap, set your thermostat at a minimum of 65 degrees. The extra few degrees will keep water in pipes moving and protect from the intrusion of a polar vortex into your walls.     

    • Main Water Valve:  Identify the location of the water shutoff in the event of a burst pipe.  When water is gushing it's important to know where to go to stop it.

    • Insulate:  OK, so this is a summer project, but if you have any work done be sure that all water pipes around the exterior of your house are insulated. This includes any crawlspace, basement, attic and exterior walls. It may be too late for this now, but make it a priority when you have insulation upgraded.

    • Garage:  Keep garage doors closed during extremely cold weather.

    • Cabinets:  Open cabinets, especially at night, if they hide bathroom or kitchen sinks that are up against an exterior wall. Open air from the house should circulate near those exterior walls.

    • Exterior Faucets:  Disconnect and drain all outdoor garden hoses, faucets, showers, etc. Keep the outside faucets open to allow them to drain and for any ice to expand freely.

    • Basement:  If you can, heat your basement during extreme cold weather.

    • Washing Machine:  If you plan to be away from the home during a cold snap, shut off the water supply valves to the machine. Replace hoses with metal cased hoses available at most home improvement stores.

    • Doors:  Install weather stripping at the bottom of each door to prevent cold drafts, or use an old fashioned door snake.

    • Lawn Sprinklers:  Turn off the sprinkler system and blow compressed air through the system...this is another important fall reminder.

    • Drip:  During extreme cold, turn kitchen and bathroom sinks to a slow drip

    water damage water stain.jpg

    The first sign of a freezing pipe is reduced water flow from a faucet. Check the faucets for water flow and pressure before bed and again in the morning. In the event a pipe begins to freeze:

    • Use a hair dryer, electric heater, heat lamp or electric heat tape to thaw the frozen pipe

    • Keep the faucet open when thawing to allow water to run and drain

    In the event a pipe does burst:

    • Shut off the main water valve

    • If the pipe is a hot water pipe, also shut off water from water heater

    • Call your plumber to repair the damaged pipes

    • Call a water remediation expert to mitigate damage: here is a list of locally vetted mediation contractors;
    • Call Gordon Atlantic Insurance for additional coordination of water extraction, damage mitigation and initiating a claim if needed. You can also contact your insurance carrier directly by clicking HERE.

    Contact Us 

    To take this one step further, consider smart valve technology which will turn off your water even when you're not home.  And get a discount on your homeowners insurance with some carriers!

    Tags: frozen pipes in winter, Water damage, frozen pipes

    Winter Weather Can Mean Frozen Pipes!

    Posted by Sue Bird

    Wed, Oct 05, 2011 @ 07:29 PM

    With the colder weather approaching us, now is an excellent time to learn more about how to avoid frozen pipes, and the subsequent water damage that can occur should those pipes expand and burst. Although sudden and accidental discharge of water from plumbing is covered under most homeowners’ insurance policies, it is always better to avoid this occurrence entirely.

    Keep your home and pipes safe from the cold winter weather with these tips and homeowners from Gordon Insurance

    To prevent frozen pipes:

    1. Leave the heat on in your home to a minimum of 55ºF during bitterly cold conditions.
    2. Remember to use all of your plumbing fixtures
      at some point during the day.
    3.  Drain and then cover all external faucets.
    4. During extreme cold, keep the indoor faucets
      running at a slow drip to maintain water flow.
    5. Should you experience a loss resulting in water damage,
      turn off the water supply as soon as possible. Homeowners should also contact a water mitigation specialist, such as SERVPRO, to dry out your home properly before mold or mildew can set in.

    And for more tips, resources, and for competitive quotes, visit the rest of our website.

    Learn more about homeowners insurance here.


    Sue Bird

    Tags: home insurance, Construction and Maintenance, frozen pipes in winter, Plumbing, Tap (valve), Water damage, what to do with frozen pipes, winter weater, frozen pipes, winter weather, Business, shopping, water

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