Does Renters Insurance Cover Water Damage?

Article Summary:

Renters insurance is purchased by a tenant on a property that they are renting to ensure financial coverage if certain events happen. Renters insurance does cover some water damage, like leaky ceilings, but other events will not be covered, such as flooding. This insurance will also cover most structural damage and natural disasters, with some exceptions.

Renters insurance is additional liability coverage that you can purchase to cover you if certain problems arise. Most renters insurance covers a multitude of different events, from bodily harm to theft of personal property, should someone break into your rented apartment. Furthermore, anyone living in a climate that offers any sort of precipitation, such as rain or snow, should think about what would happen if their apartment suffers from water damage. Does renters insurance cover water damage?

Overall, renters insurance is a smart decision if you can afford it. It is also a brilliant idea to understand everything that it covers if you fear racking up a water damage bill and having to pay it. Here are some things you should know about what your renters insurance will and won’t cover.

Will your renters insurance cover water damage?

The answer to this question is yes, but it’s complicated. Renters insurance policies will cover some types of water damage, but not all. Policies primarily cover water damage from issues like hail, roof leaking, and pipes bursting. It covers most natural disasters but does not cover natural damage from floods or earthquakes. Furthermore, if your own negligence causes the water damage, then the insurance will not cover that damage.

Let’s look at a few specific examples of how water damage could occur and whether renters insurance will cover the resulting bills.

Leaky ceilings

One of the most common types of water damage is caused by rain or snow falling onto the roof of a building and seeping into the structure below. In almost all cases, renters insurance will cover water damage caused by leaks in the roof.

Furthermore, if the water causes greater structural damage to the structure of the home, then renters insurance usually covers this as well. Typically, your landlord is responsible for structural damage caused by factors outside of your control and that revolve around the possible “shoddy” construction of the home.

Overflowing toilets

Yes, renters insurance does cover water damage caused by overflowing toilets. The caveat here, however, is that the toilet overflow is caused by something structural rather than your negligence.

If your toilet is overflowing because you tried to flush your girlfriend’s memoirs down the toilet, then, unfortunately, you won’t be covered. However, if it’s just an issue with the plumbing, you will be covered.

Freezing pipes

When pipes freeze in a cold-weather climate, this can lead to bursting, often causing significant water damage. Anyone who has spent a few years living in Alaska can attest to this phenomenon. Luckily, renters insurance does indeed cover freezing and bursting pipes.

However, there are steps you can take to prevent, or at least help, your pipes from freezing. For instance, you can leave your faucets and shower running, just enough for a small drip, to keep the water flowing in your pipes. While this may increase your water bill, it’s better than cleaning up after a burst pipe and potentially damaging your own belongings.


Liquid water isn’t the only water damage a home can suffer. Your dwelling can still suffer significant damage from hail. Even if the hail is frozen solid, it’s still water and thus covered under the “water damage” clause of your renter’s liability claim.

For instance, if the hail cracks your expensive BBQ grill or breaks a window, you can probably claim this loss with renters insurance.


Steam can cause damage, particularly within the walls where it is emanating from. For example, a broken washing machine connection can cause a significant amount of steam. This in turn can cause damage to the surrounding walls and structure. Renters insurance does indeed cover water damage caused by steam.

Loss of residence

If the water damage is so extensive that you can’t live in the home until it’s fixed, renters insurance should cover the cost of additional expenses related to funding temporary living space. However, don’t expect to be lounging at the Ritz-Carlton. Most policies will typically only cover a certain amount of money under your claim.

Looking for an insurance policy to cover your rental and any water damage? Here are some of the best options available.

How to file a water damage claim

If you’re pretty sure that your damage is covered, then how do you file a claim? There are six steps you should take note of when looking to file a renter’s liability claim:

  1. Tell your landlord.
  2. File a police report if needed.
  3. Contact your renters insurance company.
  4. Document your losses.
  5. Finish filing your claim.
  6. Update your inventory of personal possessions.

As long as you have covered all of these steps and your claim is legitimate (not due to a party you threw), then you should be good to go.

Renters insurance does not cover all water damage

A typical renters insurance policy covers a good amount of water damage that could affect your home. However, it doesn’t cover all cases.

Before filing a claim, take a look at some of the examples below of instances where water damage will not be covered. If you have any questions regarding your coverage, contact your renters insurance company for further information.


Negligence is more of a legal term to stipulate that the damage is “your fault.” If the insurer can prove in any way that the damage is your fault, then it will be difficult to make a renter’s liability claim.

For instance, if you have a party at your house where people are popping champagne and making keg stands, this could cause water damage that will be defined as negligence. Furthermore, if you accidentally forgot about leaving your faucet on, and now the place is a mess, you won’t be able to claim insurance benefits.

Flooding and earthquakes

Why doesn’t renters insurance cover floods, earthquakes, and their subsequent damage? As flooding is seen as a natural disaster and something completely out of your control, you would expect renters insurance to cover it.

However, this is not the case. Most renters insurance coverage does not include flood damage. There are separate and additional flood and earthquake insurance policies that you would need to purchase in order to be covered for flooding. FEMA offers a national flood insurance program like this.

If you live in an area where flooding is likely, you may want to consider one of the flood insurance policies below.

Sewage and sump pump

Renters insurance does not cover sewage pipes and sump pump failure. A sump pump is a mechanical device that collects and removes excess water, often located in or around a basement. Unfortunately, renters insurance does not cover any damage caused by this machine.

Should I get renters insurance?

Besides the obvious effects of water damage, a renters insurance policy can help cover a number of different events. If someone comes into your home and steals your computer, then renters insurance typically covers it. Furthermore, if there is a crack in the floor and you fall and break your arm, then a renters insurance policy will cover this as well.

According to Nationwide, one of the top renters insurance organizations in the United States, renters insurance may cost between $15 to $20 a month. In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t much, considering where prices are for most things you utilize in your daily life.

However, the price can be different depending on the state and city that you live in. Furthermore, you can select different types of renters insurance. Replacement cost coverage, for instance, offers greater value than actual cash coverage. Regardless of your current situation, it’s best to go over coverage policies with a fine-tooth comb and choose one that best protects you and your belongings.

Pro Tip

In many cases, even if your insurance does not cover this specific type of water damage, your landlord might. They are responsible for making sure that the house is spic and span so that they can rent to other tenants. For instance, if your apartment is damaged by a flood and is not covered by your insurance, a good-natured landlord will hopefully cover the damage.


What are four things that renters insurance typically does not cover?

A renter’s policy often won’t cover flood damage, earthquake damage, negligence, and sump pump failure.

Is water damage considered accidental damage?

Water damage is considered accidental damage in some cases. However, the insurance company must deem it to be “sudden and accidental” for this to be the case. If your home is damaged by an “accident” but the insurance company deemed it to be negligence, the water damage won’t be considered accidental.

Do insurance policies cover water damage?

Yes, depending on the insurance policy and how the water damage was caused, policies tend to cover that damage. Renters insurance and homeowners insurance both cover this kind of damage in most cases.

Does renters insurance cover water damage from frozen pipes?

Yes, if the pipes burst and cause structural damage, or damage to your personal belongings, then the insurance should cover it.

Key Takeaways

  • Renters insurance policies make up a type of liability coverage that covers damage or theft in a home you are renting.
  • Fortunately, renters insurance covers most types of water damage, but not all.
  • While most policies cover damage caused by pipes bursting or an overflowing toilet, renters insurance often doesn’t cover floods or sump pump problems.
  • Renters insurance isn’t very expensive and offers further protection over your belongings and living area. For most renters, renters insurance is an absolute must.
View Article Sources
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