One of the questions I’m asked about a home policy is whether or not it has foundation coverage. If you’ve lived in the Dallas / Fort Worth area, or many other parts of Texas, you know our soil moves. This seems to affect north Texas more than any other part of the state. The reason is our homes are built on “blackland prairie.” This is an ecoregion that runs from the Red River to San Antonio. The soil has a high clay content that contracts and expands. This “soil movement” can either be;
- Vertically with the soil moving up and down
- Horizontally with the soil pushing together or pulling apart
- I’ve even heard of areas in the metroplex where the soil does both
- Movement is usually between 1 and 6 inches
Signs your home’s foundation is flexing or moving include;
- Doors sticking or not staying open / closed
- Cracks in the exterior foundation or brick veneer
- Cracks in the sheet rock
- Windows cracking
- Tiles popping loose
- Floor tilt (you’re walking downhill or uphill when you cross a room)
Does your home insurance policy cover this at all? No Texas home insurance policy covers the foundation. The coverage that’s provided consists of what I refer to as;
- Slab access – pays to cut through the slab
- Slab egress – pays to close the slab back up
In most cases, this is due to a water leak either in or below the slab. It’s usually only noticed when water is either running out from under the slab or there’s an area of flooring in a room that has a growing puddle of water. The language in a policy is very specific about this and will state that coverage is excluded for damage to the foundation caused by;
- Soil erosion
- Soil movement
Even when there’s a leak, insurance companies will have differences on what is covered.
- Some cover a leak beneath and in the slab
- Some cover only a leak beneath the slab
- Some will pay to repair the damaged pipe that’s leaking
- Some only pay for the access through the slab and the subsequent egress
If you have a leak, don’t delay. Get it repaired quickly before the situation becomes worse or the house is damaged.
Slab coverage is optional coverage. There are a few policies that include this coverage, but in most cases this coverage is added as an option. If you don’t see it on your policy, please get with your agent and have it added. Slab leaks are expensive and can quickly run $10,000 or more, especially if there’s more than one leak.
There’s some debate in the foundation repair industry about whether or not to “water” a foundation. Some argue that it doesn’t help while others argue that it does. In my own case, watering helps keep the soil from moving as much as it would if I didn’t. We use soaker hoses even in the winter. Our home has a pier and beam foundation.
What’s been your experience? Share it or any suggestions or questions with us in the comments section or on our Facebook or Google + page. We’ll answer the questions and learn from your experience.