Don’t wait until your basement floods or your carpets are ruined to find out your homeowners insurance won’t pay for the damage. Water damage comes from a variety of sources, and your policy may only cover some of them.

If your pipes burst, homeowners insurance should pay for it. That changes if the insurance adjuster concludes your carelessness was to blame–not leaving the heat on for instance.

Standard homeowners policies don’t cover sewer backups and many specifically exclude damage from them. The cost of cleaning and sanitizing carpets or rooms coated with sewage gunk is all on you. If you’re really worried about this, you can talk to your insurer about buying extra insurance to cover sewage damage.

If rain comes through the roof, your insurer should pay for the damage to the inside, though they probably won’t pay for the roof repair, because that’s a maintenance issue.

Ice and snow
Snow and ice damage like a collapsed roof, water leaks from frozen pipes, and water damage from frozen gutters preventing drainage are usually covered.

In insurance-speak, bursting pipes and rain hitting your roof aren’t flooding. That term is saved for things like overflowing rivers and hurricane surges. There is no coverage–zero, none, nada–for floods in your homeowners’ policy. The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists 106 major flood events that took place between 1978 and the end of 2012, and the only way to protect yourself from them is with flood insurance. The federal government provides flood insurance through local agents. You can find an agent online at the Flood Smart federal website if you’re looking to buy.