Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Heaters?
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At best, a busted water heater means cold showers, but at worst, you could set your house ablaze after a malfunctioning water heater explodes or you could even suffocate from carbon monoxide poisoning. If the water heater is simply leaky, the water that seeps through the house will ruin your floors and furnishings. Without home insurance, you’ll be left to foot the bill on your own. Keep in mind, however, that home insurance does not cover water heater disasters that are due to neglect or improper maintenance. See when homeowners insurance will and will not cover water heater damage and what you can do to prevent disaster.
Will Homeowners Insurance Cover a Water Heater Disaster?
Whether or not a home insurance claim will be paid rests mainly on the peril that caused the damage to your water heater as well as your insurance company’s assessment of your responsibility in the disaster.
When it comes to water heaters, a standard homeowners insurance policy will cover damages caused by a burst or leaking heater if the leak is sudden and not due to age or poor maintenance. Basically, the lifespan of a heater is usually around 10 years, so if your water heater is near its life’s end and has malfunctioning old hardware, your claim may be denied or only partially covered.
After you file a claim, an insurance claims adjuster may look at the water heater and determine that the damaged water heater has already run its course and is not replaceable. If that happens you may not get any coverage at all. You may also not be covered if the leak has been ongoing for days or weeks without you noticing or taking appropriate action.
It’s important to check on your water heater every couple of months because an ongoing slow leak can cost thousands of dollars in water-damage repairs very suddenly–and it won’t be considered sudden to the insurance company, who expects you to maintain that water heater.
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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Heater Damage or Replacement?
If your water heater is damaged by a covered peril, like a fire or hurricane, your homeowners insurance should pay to replace your water heater because it is your personal property. Other perils that are covered include:
- Lightning strikes
- Wind damage
For appliance breakdown, you will not get coverage from home insurance; Instead, buy a home warranty or extended warranty on the water heater. Homeowners insurance will most likely only cover water damage, not damage to the water heater itself. So, you may get a payout to clean up the water and replace floors and furnishings destroyed by water.
It is therefore very important to check your water heater on a regular basis and buy a new one before it bursts from old age.
What Is Covered by Homeowners Insurance if My Water System Breaks Down?
If your water heater is not old and suddenly breaks down, a standard home insurance policy will cover:
- Cleaning up the water from the water heater.
- Extraction of debris or machinery left behind from the water heater.
- The replacement or repair of furniture or foundational elements affected by water damage from the water heater.
Common Exclusions on Homeowners Insurance Water Heater Claims
- Neglect or poor maintenance of the water heater
- Age of the water heater (signs of natural wear and tear)
- A manufacturing defect in the water heater
- Faulty installation of the water heater
- Plumbing problems in the pipes connected to the water heater
- Earthquake damage (you’ll need to buy a separate policy)
- Flood damage (you’ll need to buy a separate policy)
Preventing Water Heater Damage
To keep your water heater from breaking down earlier than expected, it’s important that you do the following:
- Conduct regular inspections of the water heater (preferably by a plumber)
- Regularly flush the tank
- Clean the filter
- Place a carbon monoxide detector near the water heater
If you neglect to do these four things, your hot water heater may not only burst and damage your home and belongings but it may emit carbon monoxide, which is deadly.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly inspection for everyone with water heaters that run on gas, oil or coal.
Water Heaters and Building Codes
Your water heater needs to meet the latest building code compliances. It’s important to have your water heater thoroughly checked out by a professional every few years to make sure the heater is up-to-date with these codes. Complying with the building code also ensures that your hot water heater is properly flushed, cleaned and maintained.
Conducting Hot Water Heater Preventive Maintenance
Not only does regular maintenance by a professional prevent damage to your home and the water heater itself, but it can also extend the life of the water heater, saving you thousands of dollars.
Sediment and debris that collect in a hot water heater not only prevent it from heating water efficiently, but they can also cause deadly carbon monoxide emissions or an explosion of the water heater, which can be dangerous and lead to a house fire.
Signs That You May Have a Faulty Water Heater
- Cold showers
- Weak water flow
- Water heater makes noises
- Water looks and smells dirty
- Water heater is 15 years old or older
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It’s important to have a reputable insurer in case of serious damage, like flooding caused by a water heater. If you are unhappy with your current policy or want to save a couple of hundred dollars a year, it’s a good idea to compare rates every six months. Let SmartFinancial do the work for you by entering your zip code and answering a few questions. In minutes, you’ll get several free homeowners insurance quotes!