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Home insurance and foundation repair
Foundation problems can wreak havoc on your home. While your insurance policy covers your foundation, many of the perils that actually cause foundation problems are specifically excluded from your coverage. Read on to learn more about what your homeowners insurance will and won’t cover when it comes to foundation damage.
Table of contents
- When does home insurance cover foundation damage?
- Common threats to your home’s foundation
- When your homeowners insurance won’t cover foundation damage
- How to prevent foundation problems
- How to spot foundation problems
The foundation of your home is covered under the dwelling portion of your home insurance. For instance, if your home’s foundation is damaged by a house fire or a tornado, your home policy would step in to cover it. Other perils covered by your policy’s dwelling policy include the following:
- Vandalism and riots
- Windstorms and hail
- Damage caused by vehicles
- Damage caused by aircraft
- Falling objects
- Volcanic eruptions
Home foundation damage is often caused by perils other than those listed above. Read on to see the most common problems associated with home foundations.
Your foundation is most susceptible to issues stemming from the soil it's built on. The ground can be affected by a variety of factors, including drought, water drainage and natural settling.
A number of other issues could arise and possibly harm your foundation. Common causes of foundation damage include:
- Foundation leaks
- Tree roots
- Burst pipes or plumbing leaks
- Mudslides (mudflow)
- Extreme temperatures
Unfortunately, many of these threats to your home’s foundation aren’t covered by your homeowners policy. Read on to see further examples of perils that aren’t covered.
Your foundation is subject to the same homeowners insurance policy exclusions as your primary dwelling. Unfortunately, some of these perils tend to be the primary causes of foundation problems. In most cases, the following perils are generally excluded from a standard homeowners policy:
- Damage to foundations or pavements from ice, sleet and water weight
- Freezing pipes and systems in vacant dwellings
- Vandalism to vacant dwellings
- Latent defects, corrosion, industrial smoke, pollution
- Settling, wear and tear
- Pets, other animals, and pests
- Weather conditions that aggravate other excluded causes of loss
- Government and association actions
- Faulty construction, design, and maintenance
- Enforcement of building codes and similar laws
In addition, foundation issues that arise from tree roots are not covered by a homeowners policy. This also applies to general wear-and-tear, so older homes may be at a greater risk of foundation problems that won’t be covered by your policy.
Does homeowners insurance cover my home’s foundation against natural disasters?
In general, your foundation is covered against the same perils as the rest of your dwelling — with some exceptions. However, natural disaster coverage can change depending on where you live. For instance, if you live in an area prone to wildfires, some insurers may not provide coverage. Similarly, hurricane-prone areas along the coast may have other stipulations about wind damage (flooding from hurricanes is generally not covered).
Floods and earthquakes are not covered by most standard home insurance policies. As such, foundation damage that results from these perils is not covered. Each of these natural disasters has the potential to cause serious damage to your home and its foundation. As such, seeking out the proper coverage is crucial if you want to be covered.
Flood insurance can be secured from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Mudslides are often covered under flood insurance policies. Foundation damage resulting from earth movement is only covered under a dedicated earthquake insurance policy. This coverage is often available in states prone to seismic activity, typically as an endorsement to your current insurance coverage.
Sinkholes are another common issue that can damage a foundation. Florida requires insurance companies to offer coverage for “catastrophic ground cover collapse,” but those who live outside of Florida should speak to their insurance company to see if they provide any options.
While some issues may be unavoidable, there are some steps that homeowners can take to prevent structural damage from foundation problems. If your area is susceptible to periods of prolonged drought or sustained heavy rains, shifts in the surrounding soil can have negative impacts on your foundation. As such, it's imperative to take the necessary steps to protect your home, including the following:
- In drier parts of the year, consider using a soaker hose around your home’s perimeter to keep the soil from getting too dry.
- During periods of rain, check for proper drainage, including proper guttering.
- Keep the soil around the house at a slope to enable better drainage.
It might be time to consult a foundation specialist if you start to notice any of the following issues:
- Doors and windows not fitting in their frames or are hard to shut
- The sudden appearance of cracks around the house
- Sloping floors
- Pooling water in your basement or around the edges of your house
When searching for a new home, it’s often a good idea to be on the lookout for signs of foundation damage. As foundation repair costs can range from just a few hundred dollars to well over $10,000, ensuring that it’s in good shape is vital. In general, if you are unsure if your foundation is covered, review your homeowners policy with an agent to find out.
If you are looking to increase your coverage or lower your insurance premiums, shopping around is a good place to start. The Zebra can help you get free quotes from the nation’s top insurance companies. Just enter your ZIP below to get started.
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