Help Understanding Policy Coverage of Water Damage from Off-Premises Pipes nnebe4 asked 1 year ago
Help Understanding Policy Coverage of Water Damage from Off-Premises Pipes

We are insured by Hartford, and do not have a flood insurance policy. In the recent storms in CA, water discharged from our neighbor’s downspouts flooded our converted garage 6-7 times, basically with every new storm. In reading through our policy, it appears there may be an exception to the standard water damage exclusions, offering coverage for water damage from off-premises pipes. I initially called my insurance for guidance to explain the policy, but the person I spoke with said if they offer advice they would have to open a claim, and that might impact our future rating (and possibly cause us to receive rate increases or even become uninsurable), even if we don’t pursue the claim. This seems like an unfair Catch-22. Do you have guidance on how I might get someone to explain our policy, so I do not take this risk without some confidence it would be a covered claim? Thank you.

1 Answers
Selina Clark Selina Clark Expert answered 1 year ago

Very sorry this has happened multiple times. I can only imagine your frustration. You are right, it is an unfair Catch-22 as the carrier can only discuss coverage with you when you open a claim. Please let me preface this and say, we would need to review the policy to be sure, but from what you explained, the discharged water from the downspouts would be considered “surface water.” In most policies, under Losses Not Insured, water damage–meaning flood, surface water, waves, etc. is not covered. If the water entered at the door threshold, this would be classified as “surface water.”

Another scenario – If you had a drain in your garage, and the water backed up through that drain BEFORE water entered over the door threshold, then there would be coverage IF you had the Back Up Sewer/Drain Endorsement. If you decide to open a claim, and you explain the circumstances of water entering over the threshold, they will most likely will deny your claim and send you a denial letter, then close your claim. This is considered a “Closed Without Pay” which is unfortunately still a red mark against your loss history.

If you know your neighbor very well, it would be worth a conversation to see if they would be willing to put an extension on the downspout(s) that are creating this issue for you so as to re-route the deluge of water and keep this from happening again.