Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Foundation?
The home makeover shows on HGTV are popular for a reason — people love to see a good remodel. And if you’ve turned on a show like Fixer Upper or Flip or Flop in recent years, you’ve likely heard the hosts of the show exclaim, “this house has great bones!” But what exactly are your house’s bones, and why do they matter?
The bones of your house refer to its structure. From the walls all the way down to its foundation, the condition of your home’s structure is crucial to determining its long-term health (and ability to be remodeled). And one of the most critical parts of your home’s structural framework is its foundation.
This solid slab of concrete, though hardly visible, is vital in keeping your house in good condition. That’s why when you’re shopping for home insurance, it’s smart to keep this often-ignored part of your home top of mind. Because while home insurance protects your foundation when damaged by covered perils, not every type of damage will trigger coverage.
- Your foundation is part of your home, so you can expect it to be covered from the same perils as the rest of your dwelling.
- Any damage that occurs to your foundation from an issue that was easily preventable won’t be covered.
When home insurance does cover your home’s foundation
- Damage from a car or plane
- Falling objects
- Falling trees
- Weight of snow or ice
So if a tree in your yard falls over and cracks your foundation, your insurance would kick in to cover the damage (as long as the cause of the fall wasn’t easily preventable).
When home insurance doesn’t cover your home’s foundation
When trying to determine when your home insurance will cover foundation damage, the key is the phrase "sudden and accidental." Any damage that occurs due to an easily preventable issue won’t be covered. So if a pipe in your basement has been leaking for years and ends up damaging your foundation, it wouldn’t be covered by insurance because that’s an issue you could have stopped before it led to foundation issues.
This is where proper home maintenance is so important. Taking care to prevent the following issues can save you a lot of money down the line as home insurance won’t provide protection for them:
- Construction failures
- Tree root growth
- Sump pump overflow
- Water backups
- Wear and tear
Smart home devices, such as water leak detectors and freeze sensors, can help alert you to these problems as they arise so that you can mitigate the damage before it turns into something more serious.
If you’re interested in getting more coverage for your foundation, you have options. Many insurance riders that cover perils not typically included in your original policy have foundation coverage included. Meaning if you are in an area prone to floods or you just want more service line coverage, any damage that occurs to your foundation from those issues would be protected.
Tips for preventing foundation problems
When it comes to preventing these foundation issues from occurring in the first place, there are things you can do. If you’re in the process of shopping for a home, make sure to get your foundation inspected before signing any paperwork. A home inspector will check for any signs of foundation damage and alert you to potential problems in your home that could be signs of a foundation that has shifted in recent years.
Prevent foundation problems by getting your home regularly inspected, installing proper drainage systems, watering your lawn regularly and installing a root barrier if needed.
If you already own a home, you can still speak to a foundation inspector to make sure you’re taking care of your home correctly. This includes installing adequate drainage systems in your home to keep standing water from pooling up around your foundation and maintaining your lawn adequately watered to avoid shifting soil.
Other tips for keeping your foundation in good condition include installing a tree root barrier if you have a lot of mature trees near your home and having your plumbing inspected yearly. And if you have a home insurance policy with Hippo, you can get your plumbing inspected for less through our Hippo Home Care program.
How to spot foundation damage
If your foundation cracks or shifts, there will be telltale signs throughout your home. One of the most significant indicators of issues is physical cracks along your foundation line outside your home. But if you have a lot of plants or other vegetation, these cracks may be hard to spot. In that case, the inside of your home can be a good indicator of your foundation’s health as well.
If you’re experiencing issues with your home’s foundation, you may start to notice that your doors or windows “stick” to their frames more than usual and are harder to open and close. Other warning signs include leaning walls, sagging floors and water collecting in your basement or garage. If you notice these issues, it’s a good idea to call out a foundation inspector to assess and repair the cause.
Filing a claim for foundation repair
If your foundation does end up getting damaged, you’ll need to file a claim with your insurance company. And as mentioned above, your insurance company doesn’t cover all damage to your foundation. So you’ll need to prove that a covered peril is what caused the damage when filing for coverage. Below are the steps we recommend taking when filing a claim to get the assistance you need:
- If the damage occurred from a storm, earthquake or vandal, obtain proof of the incident for your insurance company. Police or weather reports should be enough to back up your claim.
- Contact your insurance company and give them all the information you have for the claim. This includes proof of the incident and pictures of the damage.
- Take steps to mitigate the current damage, as any additional damage that occurs after you file your original claim won’t be covered.
- If approved, you’ll need to have the damage assessed by a foundation inspector.
- Schedule the repairs and receive funding from your insurance coverage.
What can you do when insurance doesn’t cover your foundation damage?
When your insurance company doesn’t cover the damage, you will most likely have to pay for the repairs out of pocket. However, if you know the damage was from a covered peril, you may want to hire a foundation inspector to help back up your claim. This can help tip the scales in your favor and get the coverage you need for the damage to your home.
Because you won’t have many options if your insurance policy doesn’t kick in, being proactive about this coverage is a must. Before damage occurs, make sure you have the appropriate riders to cover perils not typically covered in your original policy, such as flood insurance or earthquake insurance.
So next time you flip on HGTV and see a potential homebuyer fretting over sticky doors or a puddle in the basement, don’t be shocked. Foundation issues are a bigger deal than you might’ve originally thought.
But if you have a policy with Hippo, you can rest assured you have the coverage you need to protect your home. We use the latest technology to determine your coverage needs and provide expert suggestions for endorsements you’ll need for total home coverage, from your foundation to your roof.