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Homeowners Insurance Quick Links

Did You Know?

Colorado is in the
top 10 states with catastrophe-related homeowners insurance claims.

Water Damage to Your Home

Claims for water damage, mold and freezing have jumped from about 15% of all homeowners insurance claims in 1998 to nearly 22% in 2002, totaling an estimated $25.6 billion, according to the Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO). This estimate includes damage costs from hurricanes and blizzards, such as Colorado's blizzard in March of 2003, which cost $93.3 million and was the state's most expensive winter storm. Note: This estimate does not include claims for flood damage, which is covered separately by flood insurance. However, most water damage claims start with a simple leak or drip - and often can be prevented.

Preventing Water Damage

Don't wait until you're knee-deep in water to take steps to protect your home from damage left behind by broken pipes or leaking appliances. What often starts out as a small leak or drip can quickly wreak havoc, destroying your home and personal belongings. Routine maintenance checkups and assistance from qualified contractors can mean the difference between a simple mop up or major construction.


Damage from mold, like rust, rot and mildew is specifically excluded in the standard homeowners policy. Most homeowners policies will still pay to clean up and repair damage that is the result of a covered peril that is "sudden and accidental." For example, the cost of cleaning up water from a burst pipe is covered under the policy because water damage from a burst pipe is a covered peril.

Mold caused by water from excessive humidity, leaks, condensation or flooding is a maintenance issue for the property owner, like termite or mildew prevention, and is not covered by the policy. You should routinely clean up mold before it grows large enough to become a hazard. Caught early, mold usually can be removed by a thorough cleaning with bleach and water.

Home Maintenance Checklist

Water leaks can happen anywhere in the house, but they occur most frequently in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry rooms. Whether it's a slow drip or a sudden burst, water leaks can cause extensive damage to your home and personal belongings.


  • Dishwasher: Periodically, check under the sink to see if the hose connection to the water supply line is secure and is not leaking. Check around the base of the dishwasher for evidence of leaks.

  • Refrigerator: If your refrigerator has an ice maker, check the hose connection to make sure it is securely attached to the water supply line. The wet spot you see on the floor near the refrigerator may be melted ice cubes or it may be a crimped ice maker line about to burst.

  • Sink: Re-caulk around sinks and pay attention to slow-draining pipes. This may indicate a partially blocked drain. Check the pipes under the sink for signs of water leaks.


  • Shower and bathtubs: Discoloration or soft areas around floors and walls near showers or bathtubs may be your first indication there is a leak. Check caulking at joints where the walls meet the floor or the bathtub, looking for cracks or mold. If either is found, clean and remove loose material and apply new sealant. If the shower walls or floor are tiled, a leak may develop if there are cracks or missing areas of grout.

  • Sinks: Check under the sink for signs of leaks from water supply lines or drain pipes.

  • Toilets: Placing inappropriate objects or too much toilet paper in the bowl can accidentally clog toilets, especially "low-flow" toilets now required in homes. Hanging bowl deodorants are frequently the culprits. These objects can lodge deep in the plumbing system, and can block the line or create an obstruction that grease and other materials can cling to - eventually causing blockage. In addition, some chlorine table cleaners may corrode some of the internal components, eventually leading to a leak.

Laundry Room

  • Washing Machine: Inspect washing machine hoses regularly for wetness around hose ends and signs of bulging, cracking, or fraying. Replace the hose if a problem is found or every three to five years as part of a proactive maintenance program.

    • Replacing your washing machine hoses is a fairly simple home repair task. It's as easy as hooking up a hose to a water spigot.

    • Just shut off the water supply to your washing machine. If there's not a shutoff near your washer, close the main shutoff valve in your house.

    • Unscrew the old hoses and hook up the new ones.

    • Make sure you line up the threads and screw the hoses on tightly. When you're done, turn on the water supply and check carefully for leaks.

    • Washing machine hoses can be purchased at most home repair centers, hardware stores, and plumbing supply outlets. Expect to pay $10 to $20 for a new set of washing machine hoses.

  • Water heater: Most water heaters last 10 to 15 years. Wet spots on the floor or a rusted tank may signal a problem. Hot water heaters should be installed on the lowest level of the home and always located next to a floor drain. If installed above or adjacent to finished spaces, the hot water heater should be placed inside a drain pan with the drain pan piped to the floor drain.
  • Air conditioning: At the start of the cooling season, have the A/C system serviced by a qualified contractor. Make sure their service includes inspecting and cleaning the air conditioner condensation pan drain line to keep it free of obstructions. Change the air filters on a regular basis.


  • Sump pump: Sump pump systems assist in keeping unwanted water out of your home. Battery-operated back-up sump pumps can offer a degree of protection against power failure or failure of the primary pump. A generator can also be used to power the pump in case of a power failure. Test the sump pump before the start of each wet season to ensure it is in working order. Sump pumps are not intended to last more than 10 years and must have some components replaced or serviced within those 10 years.

General Tips

  • Check for hidden leaks by turning off faucets, all water-using appliances, and not flushing toilets for one hour. Record the water meter reading. If the flow indicator (triangular or diamond-shaped rotating button) is spinning or the meter reading has changed while no water is being used, a leaking pipe may exist.

  • Know where the main water shut off valve is located in your home and check it frequently to make sure it is operational.

Water Damage Prevention Tools

There are water leak detection systems that can help prevent a leak before it turns into a flood.

Water Alarms

  • Systems are typically battery-operated, stand-alone units. They are inexpensive and easy to install.

  • A moisture sensor is located on the device and will activate an audible alarm when it senses moisture.

  • Water alarms can be placed on the floor or they may be wall mounted. The water alarm should be located in high-risk areas such as under sinks and near appliances and equipment that use water.

  • Water alarms range in cost from $8 to $45.

  • This device is only beneficial if someone is inside the home, hears the alarm, and takes action to stop the leak.

Individual Appliance System

  • Systems are installed on a specific appliance and will automatically shut off the water supply in the event of a leak.

  • You may be able to install this system without any special tools. However, in some cases, a qualified plumber may be needed.

  • Individual appliance systems range in cost from $50 to $150.

Whole House Systems

  • Systems feature a shut-off valve that is installed on the main water supply piping. When a leak is detected, the system will automatically shut off the entire water supply.

  • Some models can be integrated with a local or central station security system.

  • If you travel often, this type of system could offer you additional peace-of-mind while you are away from home.

  • Whole-house systems typically take between four and six hours to install and cost between $500 and $1,500 depending on labor rates and size.
Additional Information