Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Pipe Replacement And Broken pipes?
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Does homeowners insurance cover pipe replacement? 43% of people mistakenly believe they have coverage for flood damage. Others are unsure if plumbing issues are covered.
With an average cost of well over $10,000 for water damage claims, you want to be sure your policy extends to water damage from floods, burst pipes, or other plumbing issues.
Not all types of water damage are covered, but even if they are, you need to take steps to prove your damage was not due to wear and tear or lack of maintenance. We will show you how.
Water damage is usually covered under a homeowners insurance policy, but the cause of the damage will influence the likelihood of a claim being approved or denied.
Water damage resulting from a sudden and unpredictable event will likely be approved.
All policies have specific events that are not covered, such as earth movements or wear and tear.
Gradual damage, which takes place over a long time, is often denied because it is the homeowner’s responsibility to maintain plumbing or other household features and check for leaks.
Does homeowners insurance cover pipe replacement?
This depends entirely on the cause. If the damage was because of something sudden and unpredictable, like a malfunction in your washing machine or a broken pipe, then most policies will cover it. However, if the damage is gradual because of a foundation crack or leaky pipe that you don’t address, they are more likely to deny your claim.
1 in every 50 homeowners insurance claims is for water damage or broken pipes, according to Forbes.
Several exclusions typically apply to all homeowners insurance policies, which could be grounds for denial of a water damage claim, such as:
- Water line breaks, burst pipes, or flood damage from wear and tear
- Ground temperature changes cause floods, burst pipes, sewage backups, or water line breaks
- Shifting soil near your water line
- Poor water line or pipe installation
- Pest problems that damage pipes
- Tree root damage to your pipes
You can reduce the risk of a claim being denied by taking several measures, such as ensuring things are installed by professionals, regularly checking for tree root or pest problems, rectifying any issues that you might see, and preparing your home in the winter against frozen pipes.
What coverage do I need for broken pipes?
The Insurance Information Institute found water damage to be the second most common claim between 2016 and 2020, an increase that has to do with several factors such as:
- Aging homes
- Plumbing problems
- Severe weather
Since all four of these factors are not going away any time soon, it behooves all homeowners to consider coverage that extends to broken pipes.
Certain clauses in a homeowners insurance policy can provide coverage for water damage resulting from damaged pipes. In general, it is a good idea to have three levels of coverage for broken pipes:
- Dwelling coverage for any damage to your primary dwelling
- Loss of use coverage to cover the costs of living elsewhere while repairs take place
- Property coverage to repair or replace damaged personal property
Dwelling coverage is a standard homeowners insurance policy that extends to your primary dwelling, including the basement.
This policy will provide coverage for water damage to the physical dwelling:
- The walls
- The basement
- The windows
- The basement
Loss of use coverage
Loss of use coverage is designed to reimburse you for the costs of residing elsewhere while replacements for things like broken pipes take place in your primary residence.
This policy will provide coverage for water damage for:
- Housing while repairs are being made
- Food and travel expenses while repairs are underway
Property coverage applies to your personal belongings inside your home, which can include damaged clothing, furniture, or other valuable items.
This policy will provide coverage for water damage to the personal items like:
- Water damaged furniture
- Water damaged clothing
- Water damaged artwork
What broken pipe damage isn’t covered by home insurance?
There are different causes of pipe damage, not all of which are covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy.
Wear and tear
Most homeowners insurance policies exclude water damage from wear and tear. It’s up to you as a homeowner to repair or replace items that have aged. If your insurance company can prove that you haven’t done your part, your claim is likely to be denied.
Lack of maintenance
Similarly, lack of maintenance is a common reason why broken pipe damage won’t be covered by any homeowners insurance policy.
For example, pipe replacement won’t be covered if you have a rusted water heater that is 12 years old and has never been maintained.
Under certain policies, things like ground movements or earth movements are not covered, and this can include earthquakes, landslides, and mudslides, so any water damage that results from these movements is excluded.
Sump pump failure
If you have a sewer backup or sump pump failure, and you need a sump pump repair, that damage is typically excluded from most homeowners insurance policies.
Tip: Even if you have an exclusion for sewer or drain backups you might be able to purchase a rider.
How can I tell if I have a leak?
53% of non-weather related water damage claims are because of plumbing problems.
Thankfully, the EPA has guidelines on how to tell if you have a leak:
The first way to tell if you have a leak is to check your utility bill regularly. You want to check on any spikes you’ve had in the current month compared to the previous month that other things can’t explain.
You can also find your water meter, which should be located either in your basement or in front of your home.
Tip: Take readings when you aren’t using any water. Check again 2 hours later. If the number isn’t the same, it’s a leak.
- Listen for any drips near your faucets.
- Look for water pooling around the joints under your sink and causing rust.
- Check for broken sprinklers or nozzles outside.
- Look underneath your water heater for rust or pooling water.
How to avoid having a water damage claim denied
The average cost of a water damage claim is $11,098, according to Forbes. Following a few simple steps can decrease the likelihood that a water damage claim will be denied.
According to the EPA, the average household leak can waste 10,000 gallons of water. If you have a licensed professional regularly inspect all of your plumbing systems, you have the highest possible chance of avoiding your water damage claim being denied because you can prove that the damage was caused by an event covered under your policy rather than regular wear and tear or a lack of maintenance.
Records of repair
Tangentially, you should always maintain a record of any repairs that were done over the years. If you can provide records of every inspection, repair, and replacement, you are more likely to have your water damage claim approved.
Replacing old pipes
Common leaks take place around valves, faucets, and worn-out toilet flappers, and the EPA has found that 10% of homes waste at least 90 gallons of water daily.
If you replace old hardware, especially old pipes, valves, faucets, and flappers, you have a much better chance of avoiding significant leaks that cause water damage substantial enough to require a life insurance claim.
If you live in a cold climate, make sure that you leave the heating on during winter to avoid frozen pipes.
What to do if your claim is denied
If you submit a claim to your insurance provider for water damage caused by a qualifying event and your claim is denied, there are some steps you can take:
Start by getting a second opinion from a professional. If the damage is water-based, ask a licensed professional or insurance advocacy group to come out and give a second opinion.
Submit that opinion to the insurance company and ask them to revisit the claim.
Work with your insurer.
Don’t be afraid to work with them; ask your insurance company if they have an ombuds who can review the claim. This is an official who investigates complaints, including complaints over denied insurance claims.
Contact the state insurance commissioner.
Lastly, if that does not get you anywhere, you can reach out to your state insurance commissioner and ask about what steps to take next, possibly including filing a complaint against the company.
You can look up the insurance departments and commissioners in any state with the NAIC.
Does home insurance cover frozen pipes?
A typical homeowners insurance policy will cover repairs from a frozen pipe that bursts so long as you have left your heating on. But if you turn your heat off and leave for a few days only to come back and find that your pipes have burst, it is unlikely to be covered because you didn’t take all of the necessary precautions to prevent such an accident.
Tip: Keep a thermostat at a minimum of 55°, if you are away from home in the winter. If you leave long-term, fully winterize your home by draining the plumbing and turning off the water.
Does home insurance cover water line breaks?
A typical homeowners insurance policy does not cover water line breaks unless that break results from sudden and accidental damage.
For example, if someone is doing yard work and accidentally hits the water line, it might be covered. By comparison, if the main water breaks in town and your water is damaged, it might be covered by the insurance company used by your municipality rather than your homeowner’s insurance policy.
Exclusions typically include:
- Water line breaks from wear and tear
- Ground temperature changes
- Shifting soil near your water line
- Poor water line installation
- Pest problems
- Tree root damage to a water line
Does home insurance cover leaking pipes?
If your pipes suddenly start leaking because of a plumbing problem or an issue with an appliance, your homeowner’s insurance policy will likely cover the damage because the event is considered sudden and accidental, originating in your home.
However, a typical homeowners insurance policy won’t cover the replacement or subsequent damage if you notice a leak and it’s obviously not because of a sudden accident or issue but lack of maintenance, old pipes, or regular wear and tear.
Does homeowners insurance cover a broken pipe in the wall?
Generally speaking, if the broken pipe is the result of a covered event, it will be covered by your policy, but there are still exclusions for things like sewer backup, earthquakes, or lack of maintenance.
What to do when pipes burst?
If you have a burst pipe, turn off the main water supply to stop any additional damage. Call a plumber. While you wait for the plumber, photograph the area and quickly clear any excess water. Leave doors and windows open to try and evaporate the water.
Does homeowners insurance cover broken water pipes?
Most policies do not cover broken pipes unless the damage is because of a sudden, significant issue. Gradual damage from things like leaking pipes is not covered. If you live in an area prone to flooding, most policies exclude water damage resulting from regional floods. However, you may be able to purchase a rider with your insurance provider.