Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Foundation Repair? A Comprehensive Analysis

Does homeowners insurance cover foundation repair?

Learn about the types of foundation damage covered and exclusions.

Ensuring a secure and sturdy home requires a strong foundation, yet multiple factors like construction flaws, soil shifts, tree root expansion, or aging materials can contribute to foundation damage over time.

Does homeowners insurance cover foundation repair?
Does homeowners insurance cover foundation repair: Photo(Van Matre Construction)

 

For homeowners, this poses a significant concern, as foundation issues may result in expensive damage to other home components, elevate the risk of losses, and diminish property value.

Understanding the conditions under which your insurance policy may cover foundation damage, instances when it may not,

And implementing preventive measures can empower you to steer clear of and effectively address foundation problems.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Foundation Repair?

Coverage depends on whether the damage is caused by a covered peril listed in your policy.

The proximate cause, or the event leading to the loss, is a crucial factor.

While straightforward events like a neighbor crashing into your house are usually covered, it can be more complex.

For instance, damage from falling objects is a standard peril, but a tree falling due to termite damage may not be covered.

The proximate cause of wind is a covered peril, whereas termite damage is often excluded.

Examine your policy, considering exclusions and specific perils covered.

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What types of foundation damage does homeowners insurance cover?

Standard policies, such as HO-3 and HO-5, encompass dwelling coverage, including your home’s structure and foundation.

These policies provide dwelling coverage on an open perils basis, covering any loss not explicitly excluded.

Most home insurance policies assist with foundation repairs due to covered perils like fire, windstorms, vandalism, falling objects, water damage from specific sources, and explosions.

However, it’s crucial to read your policy to determine included perils.

Depending on your location, you might have a percentage-based windstorm deductible or a standalone windstorm insurance policy.

Certain events, like windstorms or wildfires, may be excluded, especially in high-risk areas like Florida or California.

When might a standard home insurance policy not cover foundation damage?

While home insurance generally covers many causes of foundation damage, there are specific scenarios where coverage might be denied.

For example, some homeowners assume they have foundation protection from their insurer after any natural disaster.

However, most home policies explicitly exclude coverage for two major natural disasters that can cause significant foundation damage: floods and earthquakes.

If you live in an area prone to earthquakes or floods, consult with an agent familiar with these risks;

And your region to explore whether purchasing a separate earthquake or flood insurance policy would offer additional protection for your home.

As climate change alters extreme weather patterns globally, certain areas are increasingly vulnerable to natural disasters. A knowledgeable agent can assist you in navigating these coverage decisions.

Typically, insurance agreements only provide coverage for “sudden and accidental loss” or “direct physical loss,” which refers to damage caused by an accident or other unforeseen event.

Standard policy exclusions related to foundation issues often include:

  • Wear and tear
  • Neglect
  • Faulty construction
  • Birds, vermin, rodents, insects, or animals kept by an insured party
  • Settling, shrinking, bulging, or expansion

What to do if you encounter foundation damage:

In the event of your home’s foundation sustaining damage from a covered peril, it’s crucial to promptly contact your insurer or agent to initiate a claim.

Document the damage by taking photos and videos when it’s safe to do so, and submit these materials to your assigned claims adjuster, keeping a copy for your records.

Following the claim submission, your insurance company is likely to send a field adjuster to your property for an in-person assessment.

The adjuster will then compile an itemized claim report outlining the loss and what your policy covers.

For a successful homeowners foundation claim, adhere to your insurer’s requirements.

If you have any uncertainties about the process, don’t hesitate to ask questions.

Many insurers offer assistance through a network of preferred contractors, some of whom guarantee their workmanship for a specified period.

Major insurers providing this service include State Farm, USAA, Safeco, Farmers, Liberty Mutual, and Amica.

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Tips for preventing foundation damage:

While certain losses are inevitable, you can take steps to protect your foundation and reduce the risk of preventable damage. Consider the following tips:

Get a home inspection before moving in

Prioritize a home inspection when purchasing a house to assess the foundation’s quality and avoid potential problems in the future.

Maintain your soil

Be mindful of soil moisture levels, as excessively dry or wet soil can strain your foundation.

Adjust your actions based on your climate; for instance, water the soil periodically in drought-prone areas.

Check your grading

Ensure proper drainage by maintaining a minimum of 6 inches of grading away from your house within a 10-foot radius.

Mind your trees

Keep an eye on nearby trees to prevent root intrusion into your foundation.

When planting, leave sufficient space around your foundation, typically allowing one foot of root spreading area for each inch of trunk thickness.

Clean your gutters

Prevent water overflow onto the soil surrounding your foundation by regularly clearing clogged gutters.

Lay some mulch

Use mulch around your house to regulate soil moisture and temperature, reducing pressure on your foundation.

Keep wood mulch at least 6 inches away from the foundation to prevent termite damage.

Address cracks promptly

If you observe any cracks in your foundation, seek professional assessment promptly.

Taking swift action can minimize damage and repair costs.

Warning signs of foundation damage:

Does homeowners insurance cover foundation repair
Warning signs of foundation damage: Photo(Engineered Solutions)

Cracks:

Cracks in the home’s interior sheetrock, chimney, tiles, or exterior can indicate a cracked foundation, especially if the cracks are horizontal or zigzagged.

Growing or lengthening cracks may signify worsening foundation issues.

Wet crawl space

A wet crawl space could suggest a crumbling or cracked foundation.

Poorly sealed pier and beam foundations or easily flooded areas can allow water into the crawl space, causing further damage to an already weakened foundation.

Crumbling foundation

The appearance of a rust-colored residue or white powder may indicate a slow deterioration of the concrete, potentially leading to a failed foundation.

Shifting

Warped or leaning walls, floors, ceilings, or support posts may indicate foundation shifting.

Doors and windows that no longer fit properly, such as sticking or failing to latch, could be signs of a settling or sinking foundation.

Chipping or flaking concrete on the poured perimeter foundation, separation of counters and cabinets from the wall, or nails popping out of drywall are additional indicators.

Bugs

Sightings of bugs may suggest cracks in the foundation or gaps providing entry points for insects into the home.

It is advisable to address foundation issues promptly when they first emerge, as repairs are more manageable when dealing with small cracks rather than multiple, extensive repairs.

Ignoring foundation problems can lead to severe structural issues, and sagging floors may pose safety risks.

Foundation repairs often require removing flooring for contractors to access the foundation, and the extent and cost of repairs increase with the number of cracks present.

Therefore, delaying resolution can exacerbate the situation.

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