Homeowners’ insurance exists to protect your home from a range of unexpected incidents that could land you with a huge financial bill. But homeowners’ doesn’t cover everything, so what about foundation damage, cracks, or sinking? Does your homeowners insurance cover foundation problems?
Like many things in the insurance world, the safest answer we can give to such a broad question is “sometimes, sometimes not”. But before you hit back, know that in this article, we’ll go through the scenarios where your homeowners’ insurance would cover damage to your foundation and instances where it likely would not—as well as what you can do to prevent this kind of foundation damage.
When homeowners insurance will cover your home’s foundation
Your homeowners insurance protects your home in the case of certain covered perils. So if a fire burns your house and belongings, for example, your homeowners’ insurance steps in to help pay for the structure and contents.
If your foundation is damaged by one of the covered perils in your policy, your homeowners insurance will usually help pay to fix it—like it would for any other part of the structure under your dwelling coverage.
Typical events that your homeowners insurance will cover are:
- Fire and lightning
- Windstorms and hailstorms
- Falling objects
- Water damage from plumbing or HVAC
- Damage from snow or ice
- Damage caused by vehicles or aircraft
- Riots or civil disturbances
- Volcanic eruption
If the damage to your foundation is a direct result of one of the covered perils, then your homeowners insurance would likely step in to help pay for repairs up to your homeowners’ structure limit.
Named vs open perils
If you have a named perils homeowners policy, your home is protected from those scenarios that are explicitly listed in the contract. If your foundation is damaged due to any of those specified events, repairs to the foundation will likely be covered by your policy.
If you have an open perils policy, you’re protected from all incidents except those that are explicitly mentioned. If your foundation is damaged due to any event except those listed, your insurance will probably cover it.
Note: In both cases, your homeowners insurance will not cover foundation problems as a result of policyholder negligence, which we’ll discuss in the next section.
When homeowners insurance does NOT cover the foundation
Earthquake and flood
Most standard homeowners policies explicitly exclude earthquakes and flood. This means your insurance usually won’t pay you for a claim if your foundation (or the rest of your home) is damaged in an earthquake or flood.
If you hold a separate policy for earthquake or flood insurance, though, this will usually cover foundation damage. For example, if your home is damaged during a flood and the foundation shifts due to the excess moisture from that flood, your flood insurance will likely pay for the repairs in your foundation. If an earthquake causes a crack in your foundation, earthquake insurance may help pay for those foundation repairs.
P.S. Check out these backyard hacks that help prevent flooding and related foundation cracks.
Insurance won’t cover any damage that is the homeowner’s fault, whether actively or (in most cases) due to negligence.
There are three main reasons that your foundation could be damaged due to negligence: pressure, moisture, or construction.
Pressure from tree roots can cause the foundation of your home to shift, crack, or break. Sometimes tree roots can actually break through the foundation itself. It’s your responsibility to be mindful of the trees on your property and nearby properties to ensure large trees aren’t growing under or through your foundation.
Moisture is one of the major reasons that a foundation will “naturally” settle, crack, shrink, or bulge. You don’t want to have too much or too little moisture in the soil around your home. If you live in a wet area prone to rain, you’ll want to ensure you have proper drainage systems in place. If you live in an area prone to drought, you’ll want to keep the land around your home hydrated and moist. Moisture changes typically aren’t covered by homeowners’ insurance, unless you can prove it was directly related to a covered peril (like a major snowstorm).
Faulty construction is another reason the foundation might crack or break. This is more common for newer homes with inexperienced or cheap builders. If you’re noticing foundation cracks or lots of movement in your house within a few years of building, you may need to contact the builder. In some cases, they will have a warranty on the house for a given time that will cover foundation damage. If not, you could sue the builder individually to get the foundation fixed and to prevent further damage. Damages or losses due to faulty construction are almost never covered by your insurance.
The best way to keep your foundation free from cracks is to hire a foundation specialist to take a look at your home. An expert can detect any problematic trees or areas of moisture to pinpoint how your foundation might be impacted in the future. It’s a lot less expensive to hire a foundation specialist for an hour than to pay for foundation repairs!
Does homeowners insurance cover foundation problems?
The short answer: yes! Homeowners insurance will generally cover repairs up to your policy limits for your foundation if the damage was caused by a covered peril.
Not sure what your homeowners insurance will and won’t cover? Not sure if you have adequate coverage?
Call one of our insurance advisors at (844) 300-3237 to review your policy and compare homeowners quotes.
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