Water damage is one of the most common homeowner claims and the third most costly. 2% of homeowners file water damage or freezing claims every year. On average, these claims pay $11,098.
Homeowners insurance usually covers plumbing damage and provides financing for the repairs—especially if the damage is sudden and accidental. However, if your insurance company finds evidence that you've neglected to maintain your home's plumbing, you'll likely pay out of pocket for repairs. You still have to pay your deductible before insurance kicks in, and filing a claim can drive up your premiums even when you're not.
In this post, I will discuss:
Let's get started with this post.
When Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Plumbing Issues?
Homeowners insurance usually covers plumbing issues, but you should read your policy carefully. Here are three everyday situations where you're typically covered.
You Have Frozen Pipes
While the actual pipe repairs aren't covered, homeowners insurance almost always covers plumbing damage due to frozen pipes. The exception to the rule is if you're not adequately heating your home, because insurance companies may say that pipe-freezing was preventable.
You Have A Sudden And Accidental Pipe Burst
Your home insurance policy will cover a "sudden and accidental" pipe burst because they're not in your control. You're also covered for the clean-up caused by water-related damage, but not for the cost of repairing your pipes.
Your Pipes Break Under Slab
Homeowners insurance policies cover slab leaks as long as the cause of the leak isn’t specifically excluded. For example, if tree roots cause a pipe to break under slab, your insurance company might not cover it.
How Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Plumbing Issues?
Your homeowners insurance covers plumbing problems in several ways. Here's how:
When Doesn't Homeowners Insurance Cover Plumbing Issues?
Here are a few occasions where your home insurance coverage excludes plumbing issues:
You've Neglected To Fix An Issue
As with mold damage and roof leaks, if you neglect to maintain your home, homeowners insurance will not cover you for damages that are deemed preventable. For example, if your kitchen faucet has been leaking for months, leading to your pipe corroding and bursting, you won't be covered for damages.
You're Not Updating Your Plumbing
Your pipes, dishwasher, water heater, and other items are all subject to normal wear and tear. If you're not properly maintaining your pipes and appliances and getting new ones when they're at the end of their life cycle, home insurance may not cover damages they cause when they finally break.
Sewage Backup, Or Broken Sewer Pipes
A standard homeowners insurance policy usually excludes sewer line coverage. That's an additional policy you may want to consider getting.
What Causes Your Pipes To Burst?
There are numerous reasons your pipes may burst, whether due to weather conditions or physical trauma. Here are some common causes of a broken pipe:
What To Do When A Pipe Bursts In Your Home
You have more control of a burst pipe situation than you think. Actual repairs should be left to the pros, but until they get there, you can do a lot to minimize further damage. Here's what you should do:
How To Recognize Damaged Plumbing
Sometimes pipe leaks or other water damage are sudden and accidental, but not always. Here are a few signs that could indicate your plumbing is damaged:
If you notice any of these signs, it's time to look for a potential leak source or call a plumber for a consultation or inspection.
How To Make An Insurance Claim For A Burst Pipe
If you think your plumbing problems will be covered by your homeowners insurance, you need to make an insurance claim. While every insurance company has a different process, here's what you should do the moment you discover your issue:
How Much Coverage Do You Get?
Homeowners insurance companies offer varying policies, but here's what the standard burst pipes costs are:
$200 - $1,000
National average cost
The amount of coverage you have depends on what's damaged.
Additional Homeowners Insurance Coverage Options
If you have an older home or live in an area prone to flooding, mold, or sewage overflows, here are a few additional homeowners insurance policies you should consider:
Flood insurance covers most water-related damages that originate outside of your home. These can include hurricanes, overflowing river banks, and heavy downpours that cause a drainage backup.You can purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). On average, policies cost around $738/yr.
Water Backup Coverage
Your standard homeowners insurance policy doesn't cover sump pump backups or water damage via a sewer line. A water backup policy expands your coverage to protect you if there are sewer backups or overflows. On average, this endorsement costs about $30/yr.
Service Line Coverage
Service line coverage can pay for replacing utility lines that are on your property but outside of your house. The lines covered include steam, sewer, water, and drain pipes. A service line add-on costs around $30/yr.
Mold Damage Rider
Coverage for mold damage follows many of the same rules as plumbing problems. If it's sudden and accidental, or is covered by another aspect of your policy, your claim will likely be accepted. However, many insurance companies only cover a limited amount of mold damage, ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. You can get as much as $50,000 in coverage, but make sure you're just getting as much as you need. Severe cases of mold damage can cost as much as $30,000, so you might want to consider getting a mold damage rider.
What Should You Do If Your Claim Is Uninsurable?
If your claim gets denied, you should consider getting a second opinion from a licensed professional. You can also consult with your state insurance commissioner on guidance for filing a complaint, or hire an insurance attorney to fight your claim.
How To Prevent Broken Pipes
Taking preventative steps toward protecting your home from water damage minimizes your risk
of plumbing problems and maximizes your chances of getting your claim accepted. Here's what you should do:
Sometimes plumbing problems are inevitable. However, by following the advice I've provided here, you can prevent many problems before they develop and get the proper coverage you need if something sudden and accidental happens.