Does Renters Insurance Cover Water Damage?

As a renter, it is a smart decision to decide to get renters insurance.

Renters insurance protects you and your belongings from unforeseen losses – including your liability to others.

With renters insurance, you will claim for reimbursement or replacement of your belongings when they are damaged or lost in a covered peril.

All items covered by your renters insurance are listed in your policy document as ‘covered perils.’ Also, your policy will list all perils excluded from coverage.

Your coverage will often be straightforward for most types of perils. If you lose your property in a fire, for instance, you are entitled to a claim from your insurer.

Virtually every cause of the fire will result in an approved claim, whether it was a child flicking an errant match or a bomb going off nearby.

Does Renters Insurance Cover Water Damage?

Water damage is a different story.

Typically, renters insurance does not automatically cover all water damage. It often covers some types of loss or damage caused by water while excluding several others.

For instance, your renters insurance will only cover common water damages like water leaks from the plumbing. Flooding or sewer flow is excluded from the cover.

Additionally, renters insurance only covers water damage to your belongings. If water causes damage to the walls or roof of your apartment, that is covered by your landlord’s insurance.

When Does Renters Insurance Cover Water Damage?

Most renters insurance policies typically have 15 to 20 named perils, categorized into three;

  • Weather issues.
  • Elemental perils, and,
  • Malicious human activity.

Water damage is part of the named perils in one of the above categories. But not all water damages are considered an insurance claim. Only “sudden and accidental” water damages are covered.

Flooded houses by the river after rains

Unless your renters insurance coverage is an ‘all-perils’ policy, it will only cover a loss or damage caused by a named peril.

Which Types of Water Damage Does Renters Insurance Cover?

Renters insurance coverage is meant for your belongings and the property of others in your apartment.

The same applies to water damage listed on your coverage. Water damage covered in your renters insurance applies only to your personal belongings and the property of others in your home or apartment.

Your renters insurance does not cover damage to the physical structure of the apartment – your landlord’s policy covers that one. Also, water damage caused by the building’s maintenance issues is the responsibility of your landlord; hence it is not covered by your policy.

The following types of water damage are covered by renters insurance;

Your rental insurance covers water damages that are caused by a sudden and accidental discharge of water from plumbing, air conditioners, and radiators.

Here are a few named perils for water damage that your renters insurance may cover:

  • Water leaks and burst pipes.
  • Frozen water.
  • Rain.
  • Toilet flooding.
  • Damage caused another peril.

Water Leaks And Burst Pipes

This peril distinctly refers to water or steam circulating through your apartment because of the regular day-to-day use. Ordinarily, the flowing water must be in your apartment’s plumbing system.

Renters insurance covers your belongings if leaks damage them. Such covered leaks include ceiling leaks, sink leaks, or automatic fire sprinkler systems. Also, air conditioning and heating (think radiators).

Not only does your insurance policy cover burst pipes, but it also covers household appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers.

Middle aged man repairing burst water pipe

The coverage often includes both accidental discharge and sudden cracking, bulging, burning, and tearing apart.

Frozen Water

Your renters insurance policy will cover the weight of ice, snow, or sleet on the building, which ends up causing damage to your belongings.

Insurance cover is mainly applied when the ice or snow somehow broke through the walls or roof into your apartment.

Like leaks and pipes, this coverage is explicit to the water circulating in your apartment’s HVAC system, plumbing, or your household appliances.

If the frozen water, for instance, in a pipe, bursts the pipe and causes loss or damage to your belongings, your insurance company may help cover damage to your belongings.


Rain is a covered peril under the provision for hail and windstorm coverage. However, this provision only applies if rainwater gets into your apartment because the hail or windstorm caused it by creating an opening on your apartment’s roof or walls.

Rainwater may leak into your apartment and cause ruin onto your belongings.

However, the cover may not include all leaks. If roof corrosion or rot caused the leak, then that’s structural damage. Structural damages are covered by your landlord’s insurance, through which you may file a claim.

Toilet Flooding

Your toilet is part of your apartment’s plumbing system. Your renters insurance coverage will cover damage to your belongings from your toilet flooding due to sudden and accidental discharge or overflow.

The phrase “sudden and accidental” is used to differentiate between a true insured situation and a situation where inappropriate actions or ongoing maintenance cause the problem.

Leakage of water from a toilet due to blockage of the pipe


As a result, your cover excludes the situation where you left your toilet clogged until it overflowed and caused damage to your belongings. Such a situation is neither sudden nor accidental and does not qualify for cover.

Damage Cause Another Peril

If an excluded peril causes the water damage, then your loss or damage does not qualify for reimbursement from your renters insurance cover.

However, the particular excluded water damage may cause another named peril, such as fire, vandalism, or theft, which then damages your property. When this happens, you can claim cover for the loss or damage of your property from the other peril.

What Types of Water Damage Are Excluded?

An exclusion is a named peril, specifically outlined not to be approved for reimbursement from your insurer. Your renters insurance can exclude such hazards as:

  • Floods
  • Sewage water


Floods are excluded from renters insurance because they are considered water that rises from the ground, which is not covered by basic renters insurance. Any flood coverage requires separate flood endorsement or flood insurance policy.

Sewage water:

Like floods, renters insurance cover excludes damage caused by water outside the apartment. That means water that seeps in through or backs up from drains, sewers or any system that should drain water from your residence. Such water is excluded from your cover.

Liability For Water Damage Liability?

Your renters insurance not only covers your property, but also covers you from liability when water damage from your apartment causes damage to another person’s property.

For instance, if you leave your bathtub to overflow accidentally and leak into your neighbor’s apartment, your renters insurance will cover any damage to your neighbor.

Strong stream of water pours into the tub. Water pours out. Tub overflows. Close up

The liability portion of the cover only applies if you are found to be legally responsible for the damage. Otherwise, your insurance protection does not apply.

Bottom Line

Water damage is often a gray area in renters insurance.

When purchasing your renters insurance, make sure you understand every covered element, including the language. For instance, in water insurance, understand what the phrase “sudden and accidental” means.

Furthermore, the best way to make sure your belongings are safe in your rented apartment – and help protect yourself from liability – is by purchasing the proper protection.