May 27, 2022


Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Plumbing

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Plumbing

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:

  • When homeowners insurance covers plumbing issues (and how)
  • When homeowners insurance doesn't cover plumbing
  • What causes burst pipes
  • What to do when a pipe bursts in your home
  • How to recognize damaged plumbing
  • How to make an insurance claim for a burst pipe
  • How much coverage do you get
  • Additional home insurance coverage options you should look into
  • What to do if your claim is uninsurable
  • How to prevent pipe bursting

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?

How Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Plumbing Issues?

How Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Plumbing Issues?

Your homeowners insurance covers plumbing problems in several ways. Here's how:

  • Dwelling coverage pays for damages caused to the structure of your home. If your house gets damaged because of broken pipes in your walls or your water heater malfunctions, dwelling coverage can cover the repair and replacement costs. 
  • Personal property coverage pays for damages caused to your personal belongings. For example, if your water heater malfunctions and causes water damage to your clothing, furniture, or jewelry, home insurance can reimburse you up to the limits or sub-limits of your coverage. 
  • Other structures coverage covers structures on your property but not attached to your home. If the plumbing problems occur in your detached garage, barn, or pool house, homeowners insurance can pay for repairs up to your coverage limits. 
  • Loss of use coverage will reimburse you for your restaurant meals, hotel stays, and other additional living expenses if plumbing problems make your home temporarily unlivable. 

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?

What Causes Your Pipes To Burst?

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:

  • Freezing. When temperatures drop to about 0℉, water running through your pipes can actually freeze in place. As water freezes, it can begin to accumulate in an area of a pipe and cause pressure to build and eventually burst. 
  • Corrosion. If you have steel pipes, they'll eventually burst simply because of how much water has run through them over the years. To avoid this, replace your steel pipes with plastic or copper pipes.
  • Clogs. If there's a clog in your pipes, the pressure from running water will keep building until your pipe eventually bursts.
  • Water pressure. High water pressure can overwhelm your pipes, causing them to burst prematurely. The optimal water pressure in most homes is 40 to 45 PSI. You shouldn't go much higher than that. 
  • Shifts in soil. If the soil surrounding your pipes is moving, it can cause them to burst. This is most common during a construction project near your pipes. 
  • Tree roots. As trees grow above ground, their roots continue to expand below. Sometimes, tree roots can encroach on your pipes, and usually they're not strong enough to stop them. 

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:

  • Turn off the water supply. Before you do anything else, turn off your main. This will prevent any additional water from coming through, so that your pipes won't continue to burst. Then, you're just left with the water that's already come through. 
  • Drain your faucets. Turn off your boiler and water heater, then start draining your faucets to remove any water left in your system. This relieves pressure on your pipes and helps them dry. You might also have to flush your toilets multiple times to drain water in them. 
  • Clear away the water. Grab a few towels and get to work. By cleaning the water, you'll prevent any additional water damage and may salvage some of your personal belongings before it's too late. Fast clean up also prevents potential mold damage and that nasty mildew smell from taking over your home.
  • Open doors and windows. If it's hot outside, let the warm air in. This helps your pipes dry more quickly, minimizing potential damage. 
  • Use a repair sleeve. Slip a repair sleeve on the pipe to mend the break or cover the hole. It's not a permanent fix, but this will temporarily allow you to continue using water before a plumber arrives.
  • Call a plumber. Although obvious, this is the most necessary step to take when dealing with a busted pipe. The faster you can get a plumber over, the quicker you can assess the damage, discuss a solution, get a quote, and get your plumbing fixed. 

How To Recognize Damaged Plumbing

How To Recognize Damaged Plumbing

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:

  • High water bill
  • Poor water pressure
  • Poor water quality
  • Your water main is noisy or rumbling
  • You can hear pipes grinding or clanging
  • You have standing water
  • You notice a raw sewage or mildew smell

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:

  • Minimize damage. The more damage you can prevent, the better. Get the situation under control by turning off your water supply, draining your faucets, cleaning the water, and letting air in. 
  • Document everything. Take photos and videos of the water damage, including any of your personal belongings impacted by the incident. For extra credit, you should take or find images of your personal belongings and the damaged area before you have an incident. Doing so will give your insurance company an idea of what the impacted area and your possessions looked like before plumbing problems. For even more extra credit, inventory all your belongings now and write down their approximate values. If you've saved any receipts, even better!
  • Contact your insurance company. Your insurance agent will usually recommend a few water damage remediation and restoration companies in your area. Call your insurance company ASAP and explain your situation. 
  • Contact a public adjuster. A public adjuster can look at your insurance policy and determine the appropriate coverage for your situation. Then, they can negotiate with your insurance company on your behalf, potentially saving you money on your claim.
  • Start the remediation process. Go through the list of companies your insurance company gave you. Determine who you believe can deliver the best work at the most reasonable price, and schedule a time for them to come over and begin restoring your home.
  • Finalize your claim. Your insurance company is required to pay you for your property's restoration costs. They will likely send a claims adjuster to assess the damage and identify what caused your burst pipes. They may approve some repairs, but not others. This is where your public adjuster comes in handy. They'll evaluate the claim and work with your insurance company to help you get the most out of your claim. 

How Much Coverage Do You Get?

Homeowners insurance companies offer varying policies, but here's what the standard burst pipes costs are:

Average range

$200 - $1,000

National average cost


Minimum cost


Maximum cost


The amount of coverage you have depends on what's damaged.

  • Dwelling coverage. You should be at or close to 100% covered for structural damage.
  • Personal belongings. Your maximum coverage is usually between 50% and 70% of your dwelling coverage, but is subject to limits and sub-limits. 
  • Other structures coverage. Damage to other structures is covered by 10% of your dwelling coverage. 
  • Additional living expenses. These are covered in full as long as they're within reason, but make sure you keep your receipts to get reimbursed.

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

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

How To Prevent Broken Pipes

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:

  • Replace old or corroded pipes. Hire a plumber to inspect your pipes to see if they need an upgrade. Follow their advice and replace what's necessary. 
  • Winterize your plumbing. If you're out of your home for long periods during the winter months, you should winterize your plumbing. This involves shutting your water off, opening drain valves, removing your pipe's excess standing water, and draining water from your hot water tank. 
  • Trim potentially invasive tree roots. If you think some of your tree roots could interfere with your plumbing, have a plumber inspect them and hire an arborist to trim any hazardous roots. 

Final Thoughts

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.

About the Author

As a native Washingtonian, Carlos Reyes’ journey in the real estate industry began more than 15 years ago when he started an online real estate company. Since then, he’s helped more than 700 individuals and families as a real estate broker achieve their real estate goals across Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC.

Carlos now helps real estate agents grow their business by teaching business fundamentals, execution, and leadership.

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