Your home’s foundation is one of the most important parts of its construction. The foundation is the base on which the rest of the house is built. Cracks and other damage might have you feeling nervous—from the worry over your home’s safety to the cost of repairs. Depending on the damage to your foundation, repairing your foundation could come with a hefty bill from your contractor.
That’s where your homeowners insurance could be a big help. In certain circumstances, homeowners insurance will help cover the cost to repair your foundation. Learn more about homeowners insurance, foundation repair, how to spot foundation damage, and what you can do to prevent it.
- Homeowners insurance covers some types of foundation repairs, but not usually those related to seepage, insect damage, or improper maintenance.
- Some causes of foundation damage—like earthquakes or floods—require additional insurance coverage.
- File an insurance claim with your homeowners insurance as soon as you notice foundation damage that might be covered.
What Causes Foundation Damage?
Foundation damage can be caused by a sudden, catastrophic event or slowly over time. Many types of foundation damage come from natural causes, including:
- Termite damage to wood foundations
- Rat and other rodent burrows
- Heat and flames from a home fire or wildfire
- Water flowing, absorbing, or seeping into foundation materials
- Droughts and dry soil
- Expanding soil
- Tree roots
Foundation Damage That Homeowners Insurance Covers
A vital part of your homeowners insurance policy is dwelling coverage. Dwelling coverage protects the structure of your home and attached buildings—like an attached garage—from the types of accidents covered in your policy. Covered accidents usually include damage from:
- Fire and lightning
- Windstorms and hail (unless you live in certain areas)
- Sudden, accidental water damage
- Falling objects (like trees)
Most foundation repairs covered by homeowners insurance involve an unexpected accident that’s related to covered perils like fire or theft, such as:
- A driver loses control of their vehicle and crashes into your house, damaging the foundation.
- A strong storm causes a tree to fall over and crack your foundation.
- A house fire destroys your home and makes the foundation unstable.
- A gas leak causes an explosion that damages part of the foundation.
Where you live can impact what your homeowners policy covers, which could mean your foundation isn’t covered for certain perils. For example, standard homeowners policies for Texas residents along areas of the Gulf Coast don’t cover wind and hail damage.
Foundation Damage That Homeowners Insurance Doesn’t Cover
While homeowners insurance protects your foundation from many sudden accidents, it doesn’t cover everything. Some of the common exclusions include:
- Wear and tear, such as cracks from natural settling or damage caused by lack of maintenance
- Earth movements, such as landslides or erosion
- Damage from termites, rodents, or insects
- Water damage caused by seepage or leaks
- Damage to the foundation from the weight of snow or ice
You’ll likely have to cover repairs to your foundation without assistance from your insurance in situations like:
- A pipe in your basement causes damage after several years of leaking.
- Your foundation settles over time and starts to crack from age.
Earthquake and Flood Insurance
While earthquakes and floods are not covered under a standard homeowners policy, you can purchase additional insurance specifically to cover these hazards. In California, your homeowners insurance company is even legally required to offer earthquake insurance at an additional cost.
Earthquake and flood insurance can help pay for repairs to your foundation that are related specifically to the natural disaster. However, exclusions may still exist. For instance, a landslide that happens because of an earthquake might not be covered by your earthquake insurance. Be sure to ask your insurance agent or check your flood or earthquake policy for exclusions and limitations.
Signs of Foundation Damage
Knowing how to spot foundation damage can help you fix the problem before it becomes a major—and expensive—issue. It’s important to regularly check your home for foundation damage, especially after an event like an earthquake. Some warning signs that you might have foundation or structural damage include:
- Your floors are uneven.
- Doors and windows don’t easily open and close.
- Cracks appear around doors and windows.
- The foundation exterior and basement walls have cracks.
- Stair-stepped cracking is present in bricks or concrete.
What To Do If You Discover Foundation Damage
If you find damage in your foundation, consider contacting a professional to inspect it. They’ll be able to tell you if you need repairs or if the damage is merely cosmetic. Damage that was caused by a storm or another potentially covered accident can be reported to your insurance company through an insurance claim.
Before filing a claim with your insurance company, decide if it’s worth it. Your insurance company will look at your claims history when deciding whether to renew your policy or change your premium. Too many claims within a short time frame could affect your ability to find coverage or increase your premiums.
Is the cost of repairs more than your deductible? If the repair costs are less than your deductible or only slightly higher, it might be better to skip the claim and pay for the repairs yourself.
The Claims Process for Foundation Repair
Follow these steps to file a claim for foundation repairs:
- Make temporary repairs to your foundation if necessary. Save any receipts related to the short-term repairs.
- Contact your insurance agent or insurance company to start the claims process. Ask them if your repairs are covered by your policy.
- Take photos and videos of the damage for your records and the insurance company.
- A claims adjuster will visit your property to assess the damage.
- You hire a contractor that meets your own and the insurance company’s requirements to complete the repairs.
How To Prevent Foundation Damage
Taking measures to prevent foundation damage can help you avoid the hassle of filing an insurance claim or paying for repairs. For example, adding gutters to your home can help divert excess rainwater away from your home’s foundation. You can also trim overgrown brush and grass near the foundation to discourage rodents from burrowing under your home. Take the time now to assess risks to your foundation and fix them before they can cause problems.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How much do foundation repairs cost?
The cost of foundation repairs varies depending on the extent of the damage, as more severe damage will take more equipment, supplies, and labor to fix. Minor cracks may only cost a few hundred dollars, while extensive repairs may cost upward of $10,000.
How do you fix foundation damage?
There are several ways foundation repairs can be done. Some repairs include reinforcing an unstable foundation with concrete piers, raising a settled foundation with steel, or stabilizing and waterproofing a foundation with concrete slabs.
Does homeowners insurance cover foundation damage from earthquakes or floods?
Your standard homeowners policy won’t cover foundation damage due to earthquakes or floods. If you live in an area prone to earthquakes or flooding, you might be able to purchase additional insurance coverage to protect against earthquakes and floods.
Can animals or insects damage your foundation?
Yes, animals like rats and mice can burrow under your foundation, such as a concrete slab foundation, and cause damage. Likewise, insects like termites can wreak havoc on wooden pier foundations and can cause damage to your home through concrete foundation cracks.