You could end up with a messy, costly mess due to a problem in your plumbing system. Your homeowners insurance company can help you, but it will depend on the cause of the damage. Here are some things you should know about plumbing and home insurance.
Can homeowners insurance cover plumbing issues?
In most cases, homeowners insurance will cover damage caused by sudden or accidental plumbing problems. These are just a few of the situations that homeowners insurance usually covers.
After a cold winter night, you wake up to find a damp basement. The cold has caused a pipe to burst, and water is everywhere. Most homeowner policies cover the cost of replacing damaged carpets and repairing damaged drywall. Most policies will not cover the cost to repair or replace the pipe. )
If you did not do more to stop the pipe from bursting, your insurer might not pay your claim. Imagine that you were away from home and the thermostat was not set to a temperature sufficient to heat the area. Your insurer may argue that the damage was caused by your negligence. A homeowners policy will not cover this.
Your dishwasher leaks, leaking soapy water into your kitchen and basement. The cleanup would likely be covered by your homeowners policy, provided the leak was unexpected and sudden.
You may also be covered for plumbing issues with other appliances, such as water heaters, refrigerators, and washing machines. Sump pump failures are usually excluded by most policies unless there is water backup coverage. (Learn more about that later. )
Your policy will not cover the repair or replacement of the appliance. Ask your insurance agent about equipment breakdown coverage. This is a common addition to homeowners insurance that covers major appliances such as heating, cooling, and electrical breakdowns.
When water drips onto your head from the ceiling, you’re lying on the couch. You run upstairs to find that your children have left the bath running and that it has been overflowing for 20 minutes. This type of accident will likely be covered by your homeowners policy.
Your policy may also cover damage to a toilet, sink, or tub that overflows due to a blocked pipe or drain. Here’s where things can get sticky.
Water that backs up in your home will be covered by homeowner’s insurance, provided the blockage is not within your property’s plumbing system. If the problem is located in a public sewer, your insurance won’t typically cover it unless you have water backup coverage. The terms of your policy and where you live will determine the exact coverage that you have.
For more information about your coverage, please read your policy or contact your agent.
Other causes of pipe damage
Your pipes could be damaged by other events than those covered by homeowner’s insurance. These could include a fire in the kitchen or a storm that knocks down a tree onto your home. In these cases, damage to pipes would fall under your dwelling coverage section. Your dwelling coverage covers damage to your home’s structure.
What plumbing problems aren’t covered?
There are certain things that insurance policies won’t cover. These are some of the most common, and how you can add additional coverage.
Sump pump failure and sewer backup
Many homeowners policies will not pay for damage to your sewer system or sump pump, as mentioned above. Ask your insurance company about water backup coverage.
Water backup coverage will not cover the cost of replacing a sump pump that has failed. It will only cover the damage caused by the failure. If you wish your insurance to cover sump pumps and other failing devices, consider adding equipment breakdown coverage.
Flooding is a term used to describe water entering your home from outside sources such as a river overflow, a tidal surge, or heavy rains that the ground cannot absorb quickly enough. Flood coverage is not available on homeowners insurance unless you have specifically added flood coverage.
If a flood damages your plumbing, such as by letting soil or other debris get into your pipes, your homeowners policy won’t likely pay to repair it.
General wear and tear
Insurance is meant to cover unexpected, unplanned expenses and not for home maintenance. Your homeowners policy won’t usually pay for a plumber who fixes a leaky faucet, or to replace corroded pipes.
Insurers expect policyholders care for appliances and other property. Your insurer could deny your water damage claim if you didn’t fix the problem immediately after you discovered it.
How do you file a claim regarding plumbing problems?
Consider the nature of the problem and the extent of the damage before deciding whether you should file a claim. You’re more likely than others to be covered if the cause of the damage is an accidental, sudden event. Your insurance agent might be able to discuss your options for claims that you aren’t sure about.
If the damage is minor, it may not be worth filing for a claim. The deductible is an amount that your insurer will deduct from your homeowner’s claim. Let’s say you have a $1,000deductible and the burst pipe has caused $750 in damage. Your insurance company won’t cover anything.
Insurance companies have a tendency to raise their rates after you file an insurance claim. You may choose to pay for minor problems on your own.
How can you prevent plumbing problems
Here are some ways to prevent major plumbing problems from causing damage.
Search for Leaks
You should inspect your refrigerator, dishwasher, washer, and dryer’s water seals regularly. This is particularly important as older appliances are more likely to fail.
Keep the drains moving
Pipes can become clogged with hair, grease and food over time. This can be prevented by:
Hot water is a good way to flush out drains. Clogs can be broken down with baking soda or vinegar.
A mesh screen can be used to catch hairs in bathtubs and showers.
Dispose of grease and food in the trash.
Do not flush any other items down your toilet than toilet paper.
You should not ignore signs of a potential leak, such as low water pressure or unexpectedly high bills. You may be able stop a minor problem from becoming a major one by calling a plumber.
Get to the technology
You might consider purchasing a smart water leak detector or several. These devices can be placed near water-damaging appliances to receive notifications on your smartphone if they detect water. Higher-end devices can monitor the entire plumbing system and turn off water if there is a problem.
There are some discounts offered by insurance companies for homeowners who have these types of smart home technology .
Keep pipes froze
Set your thermostat to a minimum of 55°F when it gets cold outside. This will keep your pipes warm. To let heated air circulate around your pipes, open cabinet doors underneath your kitchen and bathroom sinks. Turn faucets to a slow drip. Insulating exposed pipes can also be helpful.
Questions frequently asked
Does homeowners insurance cover plumbing repairs?
Water damage caused by an accidental plumbing problem, such as a burst pipe, may be covered by homeowner’s insurance. It will not cover the cost of repairing the pipe. Pipes that are damaged by fire, storm, or other events covered by your policy are exempt. Your policy will likely cover the repair of pipes and other damage caused by such events.
Is homeowners insurance able to cover plumbing leaks?
Your policy may cover water damage if the leak is accidental and sudden. However, it won’t cover repairs to the actual leak (such a plumber’s bill or replacement pipe). Slow leaks, which have been developing over time, are not covered by insurance.
Is homeowner’s insurance able to cover plumbing clogs
It all depends on the location of the clog and whether or not it has caused any damage to your home. If your shower doesn’t drain properly, you will need to call a plumber. Because this is routine maintenance, homeowners insurance won’t cover the cost of the plumber. If the clog was severe enough that your shower overflowed, then you might be able to get insurance coverage. If the blockage was in your plumbing system, your policy may cover the repair of the water damage. However, it would not pay to clear the clog.