Angie Watts is a licensed real estate agent with Florida Executive Realty in the increasingly popular Tampa Bay area. Specializing in residential properties since 2015, Angie is a real estate blogger who published an ebook educating homeowners on how to make the most money when they sell their homes. Her goal is to educate and empower both home buyers and sellers so they can be stress-free duri...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Mar 17, 2022

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With “all risk” home insurance policies, hidden structural damage in a home should be covered by homeowners insurance.

You will be expected to provide your insurance company with reports on the damage and to help protect the home from further damage—including making any necessary repairs and keeping maintenance up-to-date. Once the damage is discovered, this could also mean getting inspections to determine exactly how much damage your homeowners insurance policy needs to cover. If you report small things and try to patch it up at minimal cost without repairing underlying problems, the resulting property damage may not be covered.

If your agent thinks you are providing poor maintenance then that could also affect your policy’s rate or whether it is renewed.

It is up to you to be honest, up-front, and in contact with your insurance company. Homeowners insurance companies may want to know from what event the damage may have occurred.

If you have an all risk policy, then you should be guaranteed coverage for any hidden structural damage you may discover as long as it does not fall under hazards that have been explicitly excluded in your policy documents. Read on to learn more detail about hidden structural damages and home insurance coverage and then enter your zip above to compare free homeowners insurance quotes.

What can cause hidden structural damage?

Hidden structural damage can often be caused by disasters such as hurricanes, tornados, and floods, as well as termite or other pest infestations. This damage is called “hidden” because, sometimes, it won’t become apparent until months—or sometimes years—after the initial damage is done.

If there is visible structural damage being addressed in rebuilding, sometimes it is only in the middle of fixing those issues that the hidden damage shows itself. Hidden structural damage can make your home very unsafe. In addition, these hidden damages can mean an enormous increase in the final cost of repairs, sometimes doubling or even tripling (or more!) the original estimate for repairs. This is especially true for damage that causes a structural issue. These issues are both essential and critical to fix in a timely matter.

One of the most common causes of structural damage is due to termites. Read the article about termite damage and home insurance to learn about what is and is not covered when it comes to termite damage.

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What are possible health risks of hidden structural damage?

Deep, structural, water damage in particular—after a hurricane or flood, for example—can take a very long time to make itself apparent. It can also cause some of the worst damage from a health and cost perspective. It could be a simple roof leak going into your attic or serious moisture coming in from multiple locations that leads to mold growth. Once mold sets in, professional crews have to go in and repair the damage and treat the mold. When it’s not treated, the spores can get into the air leading to a range of symptoms and health problems. If you don’t see the mold, you might not know what’s causing it, only that it’s serious and possibly even deadly.

If you begin to notice musky smells in your house after a flood, you will want to take action right away, because this could likely be the indication of a major mold or mildew problem. In general terms, if you see staining or other signs of water damage, call professionals and talk to your insurance provider. If it’s in an easily accessible area, insurers may see mold as a sign of neglect. If it’s in an area you wouldn’t see without some work, homeowners policies might base coverage on any history that indicates prior knowledge.

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What else can water damage do to your home?

Water can also cause damage to your roof that you may not notice for a while. Often you won’t find it unless you know where to look for it. Water can get under the roof tiles, and begin a slow, yet relentless, process of causing damage to your home.

This might cause leaks that you will not be able to see without knowing where to look (you may be able to spot these in attic crawl spaces). Again, you will want to contact experts who can make a thorough investigation of your home and any possible damages.

Water and wind combined can also cause damage to the structure or foundation of your home. These damages will make themselves apparent by slowly showing up as cracks over time. Often original weak construction develops into severe structural problems and damages. Consider the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The foundation was poorly laid leading to a tower that leans to the side. (Who wants their home compared to that?)

These problems can be fixed, but they can also be costly, especially if some of these problems become clear when you are in the middle of repairs. Take any cracks you may find seriously, as they could be indicators of serious problems.

Water can also cause hidden structural damage to the trees on your property (which, as you know, can go on to cause damage to your home) but, unfortunately, damage to trees is not often covered in home insurance policies. This varies from state to state, so you might want to look into what your state’s specific policy on tree damage is.

The Importance of Estimates and Inspections

To make sure that you get everything you need covered, do not be afraid to get estimates once you believe you may have hidden structural damage. In fact, you should make it your main priority to get in-depth inspections and estimates.

Get estimates from contractors who are not connected with your insurance company—you may end up with a very low estimate and a settlement that does not actually cover the damages. Find local, independent and well-reviewed contractors who carry their own insurance. They will expect you to pay them for coming and viewing your property and estimating the damages.

You should be happy and willing to pay them; their expert opinion will help you make your insurance claim and get the settlement you deserve. Regardless of your situation be sure to enter your zip code in now for free home insurance rates – see how much money you can save!