It’s the first rule of construction: No structure can stand without a strong, healthy foundation. But if your home is facing foundation solidity issues or needed repairs, the first question you need to ask is the most essential.
Does my homeowners insurance cover foundation repairs?
If you’re not absolutely sure, the plot will thicken on your home’s foundation problems.
“Houses need a strong foundation to keep ground water out, provide insulation and protect against natural earth movement,” Bankrate.com’s Leslie Haddock-Dehart writes. “So as a homeowner, discovering a problem with your home’s foundation can be incredibly frustrating.”
All bad home foundation jokes aside (well, except for the construction company that was accused of building houses without a foundation on a baseless accusation), the reassuring news is home insurance covers your house’s foundation against specific risks.
Now for the not so assuring fine print of standard homeowners insurance policies: some common causes of damage are not covered. The No Coverage List specifically includes general wear and tear that is common with older home foundations.
It’s imperative that homeowners know what foundation damage their insurance will cover, how to identify foundation damage, and most importantly for your home’s future, how to prevent it moving forward.
“Whether foundation repairs are covered depends on the source of the damage,” Farmers Insurance agent Matt Mormile stresses.
As Progressive.com notes: “Because your home’s foundation sits in direct contact with the ground, many environmental factors can cause damage, including temperature changes, poor drainage, water buildup, tree roots and inferior construction.”
Standard Foundation Damage Covered By Homeowners Insurance, Part 1
What is the Root Cause of Your Foundation Problem?
If the prior coverage section seems strangely short, it’s because coverage must be determined by the cause of the foundation issues. In other words, we’ve got to do a deep dive to determine the root cause of your home’s foundation problems.
“The root damage of your foundation problem might not be readily apparent,” Haddock-Dehart writes.
Deducting the cause of your foundation damage requires a professional inspection. A foundation specialist can inform you on what caused the issue and give you a good idea of how extensive repairs will be. Most importantly, a foundation specialist’s report will give you the evidence you need if you decide to file a home insurance claim.
Most Common Causes of Home Foundation Issues
- Too Much or Too Little Soil Moisture
- Pooling Water
- Natural Disasters (Earthquakes, Mudslides and Tornadoes)
- Tree Root Growth
- Plumbing Leaks
- Earth Movement
Signs of Foundation Damage
The signs of a home foundation in peril are numerous, but not always obvious.
- Basement Wall and Floor Cracks
- Doors and Windows stick, have gaps, or won’t open or close properly
- Uneven and Slanted Floors
- Moisture, Mold or Mildew
- Tilted Chimneys
- Sinking of Attached Structures (stoops or porches)
- Walls Bowing Inward
“If you notice any signs of or have concerns about foundation damage, schedule an important with a home expert to verify and assess the potential damage,” U.S. News & World Report’s Mandy Sleight advises.
Standard Foundation Damage Covered By Homeowners Insurance, Part 2
This brings us to the must-read section of your homeowners insurance policy when it comes to foundation damage.
All standard home insurance policies include Dwelling Coverage, the portion of your policy that covers the physical structure of your home, attached structures, and specifically, your foundation. HO-3 and HO-5 home insurance policies (the industry’s most common types of coverage) provide dwelling coverage on an open peril basis (meaning any loss not explicitly excluded from your policy is covered).
Most home insurance policies will cover foundation repairs after covered perils like:
- A vehicle or aircraft crashing into your home
- Falling Objects including trees
- Water Damage resulting from an overflow in your A/C, heating or plumbing systems
The disclaimer all homeowners must remember: Read through your policy (we know it’s not Sports Illustrated or People, but it’s must-know information) to determine which covered perils are included in your coverage. Which brings us to the bad news of home insurance foundation repair coverage …
When Will Your Policy Not Cover Foundation Damage?
Floods and Earthquakes: Unfortunately, almost all home insurance policies exclude the natural disasters that cause the most foundation damage. If you reside in an area where either of these disasters are common (remember, we’ve learned the hard way that much of Iowa resides in the heart of a flood zone), purchase a separate flood insurance policy to safeguard both your foundation and your home as a whole.
“Home insurance isn’t designed to cover normal maintenance and repairs,” Mormile notes.
Normal Wear & Tear: This includes standard home aging foundation issues. Insurance agents stress it’s a homeowners responsibility to perform proper foundation maintenance on their home. A failure to do this will result in a finding a homeowner negligent in the event of foundation damage.
Shifting or Cracking Foundation & Sagging Floors: If these issues result of extreme temperatures, soil fluctuations, earth movement or tree growth. Standard policies will not cover this damage as it is not considered “sudden and accidental.”
Faulty Construction: This goes back to the first rule of construction. Foundation damage caused by faulty construction coverage is not covered.
To avoid this issue – and the associated out-of-pocket cost – make sure you get a home inspection before buying a new home.
Time is of the Essence
If your home experience’s foundation damage, call your insurance agent immediately. Remember, most insurers offer coverage for a set period of time after a damage event occurs. Be sure to take photos and videos to document the damage after getting an all clear from your insurance agent. Your agency may also want to send an appraiser to view the damage in person.
Like any insurance claim, filing a successful home foundation damage claim comes down to meeting your policy and insurer’s requirements. Make sure you do your homework to prevent financial home foundation repair disaster from cracking beneath the feet of you, your family and home.