When a disaster strikes your home, your first concern is safety. But then your second thought might be, “How much will this cost to fix? And will my homeowners insurance cover it?” That question can feel even more pressing if you were responsible for the water damage or fire damage to your home.

While homeowners insurance policies can vary, and we can’t offer any guarantees within a blog, rules within most policies tend to fall along these lines.

If water damage occurs within your home, homeowners insurance usually won’t pay to fix the problem. So for example if a pipe breaks, your insurance policy won’t cover the cost of fixing the pipe. But it will pay for repairs due to water damage, such as replacing flooring or drywall. If the incident was your fault in some way, your policy might not cover the damage at all. But again, policies do vary with regard to this.

If water damage occurs due to sewer backups, many policies will not pay for the cost of water damage cleanup. However, separate policies are available for this purpose.

As for fire damage, the rules are a bit more straightforward. If you intentionally cause a fire within your home (arson), your homeowners insurance policy will not pay to repair the damage. But that’s not likely to be your only worry at this point. You will likely be facing criminal charges as well.

Otherwise, your homeowers insurance should pay for the cost of repairing fire damage. Yes, even if the fire was a negligent type of accident.

Homeowners insurance policies might also cover your personal possessions which were damaged by water or fire, depending upon certain limits. And if you can’t stay in the home while repairs are completed (common after a fire) then your policy might also cover the cost of a hotel.

The important thing to remember is to call the experts early after fire damage or water damage. We can help you communicate with your homeowners insurance representative and recommend the restoration and repairs that your home needs in these situations.