Over the past 30 years, I’ve heard this question literally thousands of times from Nebraska residents. And the answer is…maybe! If you look at it from your insurance carrier’s perspective, your homeowner’s policy is a contract. So the question becomes, did your basement water damage originate from a covered peril?
IS BASEMENT WATER DAMAGE COVERED? It’s not possible to cover every scenario or cover the intricacies of very homeowner’s policy in this article but I hope to shed some light on issue. Generally speaking, Nebraska homeowner’s policies cover water damage that is 1) sudden, 2) accidental and 3) originating from a covered peril. So, I usually see accidental discharge from the plumbing system (broken pipe, failed appliance, failed plumbing fixture, etc.) being covered in Nebraska. It’s important that the damage occurs from a single event and has been mitigated in a timely manner.
SUMP PUMP MALFUNCTION: If you have a basement in Nebraska and you have a sump pit, I would urge you to 1) have a sump pump installed in it and 2) call your insurance agent to verify that you have the added coverage for a sump pump malfunction. You MUST have this added endorsement on your policy for water damage resulting from a failed sump pump to be covered. Your insurance agent can advise you on coverage amounts but in my opinion, $10,000 would be a minimum. On a side note, the pump must actually malfunction for coverage to be extended. If your pump is simply unplugged, or there isn’t a pump installed, you’ll likely be out of luck.
GROUNDWATER INTRUSION: With the exception of the above paragraph, I’ve seldom seen ground water covered by insurance. Without a sump pump malfunction and the added coverage for said malfunction, you may be on your own financially. In rare instances a property may be covered by national flood insurance (consult with your insurance agent) but that’s a separate policy.
STORM DAMAGE: Occasionally, heavy rains can result in groundwater filling a window well to the point where the glass breaks and the basement floods. In my experience this is seldom covered by Nebraska homeowner’s insurance. However, occasionally an object floating in the water, like a log, breaks the window glass. In many of those situations, the water damage was covered because it wasn’t the water that broke the glass.
As you can see, there are an unlimited number of variables when it comes to water damage insurance claims in Nebraska. Different insurance carriers, insurance policies, insurance adjusters, sources of water and interpretation of these variables makes speculating about coverage very difficult. My best advice is to know your policy (keep it where you can find it), do your best to limit your exposure to basement water damage and have a conversation with your insurance agent to determine your risk.