Water damage is a growing problem in older homes



Flooding is becoming a major problem in older homes, but not because of inclement weather conditions. Instead, faulty pipes and valves, worn out hoses in washing machines, and poorly maintained connections to appliances that use water are to blame, according to the Wall Street Journal.

As a result, there’s been a big increase in extensive water damage to homes that leads to insurance claims, the Journal said. According to its report, one in fifty homeowners have filed a claim relating to water damage between 2013 and 2017. In that period, insurers have coughed up $13 billion in coverage awards.

The average claim for water damage totals around $10,000, the report said.

“Wildfires, hurricanes, and tornadoes catch headlines, but the reality is that the number one kind of risk that the everyday consumer has is a water claim,” Jon-Michael Kowall, an executive at USAA in the property insurance business, told the Journal. “It is lurking in the house.”

The risk of water damage is being increased due to a trend among homeowners to locate laundry rooms upstairs. Leaks from these facilities on upper floors have the potential to cause more damage as the water trickles down to lower floors. Aging homes are also a problem, as older pipes are more likely to spring leaks.

Luxury homes aren’t immune to water damage either. For example, the Journal related the case of a Southern California oceanfront property that was protected by a 12-foot seawall. The sea didn’t penetrate the home, but a crack in a second floor toilet tank caused more than $1 million worth of damage to the home’s floors, walls, home theater and artwork.

To combat the problem, Insurance firm USAA is piloting a scheme that involves placing water detecting sensors in 6,000 of its customers homes. The idea is to detect such problems before they cause extensive damage. Other insurers, such as AIG, are alternatively offing credits to customers that use water leak detecting technologies.

Homeowners must realize that not every water damage bill will necessarily be covered by insurance. For example, standard homeowner policies exclude storm surges and river flooding from coverage. Also, most homeowners’ policies will cover “sudden and accidental” damage but not routine maintenance. As such, homeowners who have ignored a slow leak for months may find insurance denies their claim.

About Mike Wheatley

Mike Wheatley is the senior editor at Realty Biz News. Got a real estate related news article you wish to share, contact Mike at mike@realtybiznews.com.