While homeowners’ insurance is pretty awesome (if we do say so ourselves!) that doesn’t mean that it covers everything that could conceivably go wrong with your home.
Case in point: Repairing damage to your home’s foundation can get pretty costly, but your home insurance policy won’t cover such damage in every scenario. So what’s covered and what isn’t—and how can you prevent foundation problems in the first place?
- When homeowners insurance covers foundation issues
- When homeowners insurance won’t cover foundation issues
- Cost of foundation repair
- 7 tips for preventing foundation damage
When homeowners insurance covers foundation issues
When it comes to your home’s foundation, the relevant part of your policy is its dwelling coverage, which covers the structure of your home itself. Your insurance company will probably cover foundation repair if:
- The cause of the damage is listed in your policy (i.e., it’s a “covered peril” like a windstorm that causes a tree to fall on your house and damage your foundation)
- It was sudden and unexpected.
In general, your home insurance will help you with the cost of foundation repair if it was caused by:
- Fire or lightning
- An act of vandalism or riots
- Something falling into your property
- A vehicle driving into your home or an aircraft crashing onto it
- Wind and windstorms
When homeowners insurance won’t cover foundation issues
While your homeowners insurance coverage will kick in to help cover some instances of foundation damage, there are cases where your policy won’t cover repairs, even if the damage stems from a natural disaster and you aren’t at fault.
For a start, most policies specifically exclude foundation issues caused by floods or earthquakes, which happen to be some of the biggest culprits behind foundation damage.
If you live in an area which is at high risk of floods and/or earthquakes, like Florida or California, you’ll want to look into purchasing a separate flood insurance and earthquake insurance policy. (For a few extra bucks a month, Lemonade offers earthquake insurance as an add-on for homeowners in California.)
Most insurance coverage doesn’t include foundation problems that are caused by normal wear and tear, like the natural settling of the earth over time. This can be a problem for newly built houses, so you’ll want to verify that your home is built on evenly compacted soil.
Homeowners insurance is a two-way street. In exchange for helping cover the costs of a wide range of bad scenarios, your insurance company expects you to do your part to maintain your home, and that includes its foundation. That’s insurers are unlikely to pay for structural damage that could have been expected and prevented, like:
- Tree roots that grow under your home or press against the foundations (tree roots can be incredibly strong!)
- Faulty construction
- Any earth movements or changes to the nature of the soil because of temperature or drought
Cost of foundation repair
Foundation repair costs typically range between around $2,100 and $7,500. What it will cost to repair your home’s foundation depends on where you live, the cost of labor in your area, and how complicated the repairs are.
Not surprisingly, the earlier you spot the problem, the less it costs to fix it, so it’s well worth keeping an eye out for early signs of foundation damage. These can include:
- Cracks around your windows and doors
- Visible foundation cracks in basement walls or the outside of the foundation
- Uneven floors
- Step-like cracks in bricks and concrete
- Doors and windows that don’t close or open as easily as they used to
- Dampness or water in the crawl space
- Bugs (ugh!) which invade your home through unseen cracks in the foundation
While a foundation check will be part of your professional home inspection, you don’t need a foundation specialist to continuously monitor your home’s foundation. Just make your own regular inspections for these warning signs so that you can address any issues before they become much bigger—and costlier to fix.
7 tips for preventing foundation damage
Some causes of foundation damage are completely outside your control.
Nevertheless, it’s worth taking small measures to keep your home’s foundations healthy and in good shape.
- Before you buy a new home, get a home inspection. This way, you won’t unknowingly buy a house that already has foundation issues.
- Keep your gutters clear of blockages, so that rainwater doesn’t build up and overflow to the soil below your home’s foundation.
- Do your best to keep the soil under and around your home from getting too dry or wet. This might mean watering it at times if there’s a drought.
- Lay mulch around the house to maintain soil temperature and moisture levels.
- Check the grading to make sure that extra water drains away from the house.
- Keep an eye on trees that grow near your house in case their roots reach the foundations.
- Keep grass and bushes short if they are near the foundations, to discourage bugs, rodents, and burrowing animals from making a home underneath yours.
Don’t let your foundations let you down
Strong foundations are the key to a healthy home, so do your best to keep yours in good shape.
But let’s be honest, you can’t control everything, so you also want to know that your home insurance policy has your back if it all goes unexpectedly pear-shaped. Why not let Lemonade homeowners insurance be the foundation of your home insurance safety net? Getting a quote is free, easy, and brings you a step closer to protecting your home, foundation and all.
A few quick words, because we <3 our lawyers: This post is general in nature, and any statement in it doesn’t alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. You’re encouraged to discuss your specific circumstances with your own professional advisors. The purpose of this post is merely to provide you with info and insights you can use to make such discussions more productive! Naturally, all comments by, or references to, third parties represent their own views, and Lemonade assumes no responsibility for them.represent their own views, and Lemonade assumes no responsibility for them. Coverage may not be available in all states.