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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Plumbing and Pipe Leaks?

Homeowners insurance covers sudden and accidental water damage from burst pipes, malfunctioning water heaters and plumbing failures. Home insurance excludes coverage for water damage caused by maintenance issues, neglect, flooding and clogged sewage systems.

Water claims have soared significantly in recent years. According to Versik Analytics, one in fifty U.S. homes filed a water damage claim between 2013 and 2017. The total amount of insurance payouts for water damage was $13 billion, and the average claim was $10,000

If you have unexpected water damage, having the right home insurance options can help you pay for repairs.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Plumbing?

Homeowners insurance covers sudden or unexpected water damage caused by burst pipes or water heaters.

Homeowners insurance covers sudden or unexpected water damage caused by burst pipes or water heaters. For instance, your home insurance would cover repairs if a pipe burst spills water into your kitchen, ruining your cabinets and floors.

 Your home policy has several coverages that can pay for repairs:

  • Dwelling insurance pays for structural damage to your home caused by water damage that helps to repair or replace your walls, floors, cabinets and other wet areas, but doesn't pay to fix sources of the damage. For example, dwelling insurance won't pay to repair your burst pipes, malfunctioning plumbing or faulty appliances.

  • Other structures coverage covers repairs for water-damaged, detached structures on your property, such as gazebos, in-ground swimming pools or fences. For example, other structures insurance will pay for repairs if a hot tub pipe bursts and causes significant damage to your home's unattached deck.

  • Personal property coverage replaces your furniture, clothing and other personal belongings if a covered peril causes water damage.

You must file a claim with your home insurance carrier to get your repairs covered. Remember, your deductible will apply before your insurer pays for your water damage.

When Does Homeowners Insurance Not Cover Damage Caused by Plumbing?

Home insurance usually pays for water damage when circumstances are out of the homeowner's control; however, insurance carriers exclude damages caused by the following situations.

Maintenance Issues and Neglect

Your home policy doesn’t cover water damage caused by maintenance issues or neglect.

Your home policy doesn't cover water damage caused by maintenance issues or neglect. Under each insurance contract, carriers require homeowners to repair minor plumbing problems as these issues arise. For instance, if a slow-leaking pipe causes your bathroom's drywall to bulge, your home insurance won't cover the damage because you failed to repair the leak immediately.

Aging Plumbing Systems

Carriers won't pay for water damage repairs caused by aging or failing plumbing systems. On average, most plumbing systems last 25 to 70 years. If your plumbing system has failed due to age, your insurance company won't cover the water damage. You must replace these systems on your own before water damage occurs.

Foundation Seepage

Foundation seepage is water damage that occurs due to excessive rains and the pooling of excess moisture on your home's foundation surface.

Insurance companies attribute foundation seepage to normal wear and tear. Over time, a home's foundation settles, causing cracks to form. The homeowner must fix these issues by purchasing drain tiles and patching and re-sealing concrete walls in their basement and foundation.

Flood Damage

Home insurance excludes coverage for water damages caused by floods. FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a single peril policy that pays for direct physical damage to your insured property up to the replacement cost or actual cash value. Their standard flood insurance policy provides two coverages that can cover flood damage.

  • Building coverage pays for repairs to your home's structure, floors, built-in appliances, electrical and plumbing systems.

  • Contents coverage pays for your clothing, electronic equipment and other belongings when floodwaters damage them.

Polybutylene and Galvanized Steel Pipes

Home insurers sometimes exclude coverage for polybutylene and galvanized steel pipes in their policies.

Home insurers sometimes exclude coverage for polybutylene and galvanized steel pipes in their policies. Water systems built from these two materials galvanized steel and polybutylene as faulty materials. Builders extensively used polybutylene and galvanized steel materials in plumbing systems during the 20th Century. Some won't cover these plumbing systems made from these materials.

  • Galvanized steel, used in home plumbing systems built before the 1960s, leaks dangerous lead in the public water systems.

  • Polybutylene is a plastic resin that dominated water systems from 1978 to 1995. Chlorine erodes polybutylene pipes, causing them to become brittle, leak water and eventually burst.

Optional Insurance Coverage Specific to Plumbing

Home insurance policies also exclude water backups from sump pumps and mold damage. Fortunately, two optional home insurance coverages can pay for these repairs. A water backup endorsement or mold damage rider can expand your existing home insurance coverage.

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Water Backup

Most homeowners insurance policies don't cover water damages from overflowing sewer lines or sump pumps. You can buy a rider from your insurance company that pays to repair your sewer lines and water damage.

You can purchase a water backup endorsement to expand your homeowners insurance to cover backups from sewer lines and sump pumps. On average, water backup endorsements cost $30 to $250 per year, with most companies offering between $5,000 to $25,000 in protection. Water damage restoration costs $2,400, with average prices ranging from $1,000 to $3,800.

Mold Damage

Home insurance policies usually exclude coverage of mold damage unless the destruction is caused by a covered peril, like a sudden burst pipe, but whether or not you let the condition linger too long may be an issue with your insurer.

 A mold rider eliminates a home insurance policy's exclusion for mold damage. The average cost for mold remediation is between $15,000 and $30,000. Most insurers cap coverage between $1,000 to $10,000.

Preventing Plumbing Problems

You can prevent plumbing damages by following these steps:

  • Know where the main water supply enters your residence, and test the emergency shut-off valve to ensure it works.

  • Shut down your water supply when you're away from home for extended periods.

  • Inspect your showers, tubs, toilets, sinks and water-using appliances for corrosion or leaks. Repair them if you spot damage.

  • Add insulation to your home's walls and plumbing system to prevent frozen pipes in the winter.

  • Don't pour fats, oils and grease down your kitchen drain, and place these ingredients in a separate container, and throw it away in the trash.

  • Run hot water down your drain after every use to rinse away soap, scum and hair.

  • Use drain covers and screens to prevent hair and objects from entering and causing blockages.

  • Schedule a routine maintenance check from a plumber who can spot plumbing issues.

Does Flood Insurance Take Care of Flooding From Pipes?

The National Insurance Flood Program only covers water damage directly caused by flooding. The federal agency defines flooding as an excess of water on land that's usually dry and affects two or more acres of land or property.

For instance, flood insurance will pay for repairs if pipes burst due to floodwaters. NFIP wouldn't cover the damage if the flood didn't cause the pipes to burst.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Frozen Pipes?

Frozen and burst pipes are two common claims homeowners submit during the winter. Your homeowners insurance covers cleaning, repairs and water damage that results from frozen pipes. Your carrier won't cover your damage claim if you turned off the heat for a few days, while temperatures dropped.

For instance, your home insurance won't cover repairs if you left for a Thanksgiving vacation and didn't keep your home's temperatures above 55 degrees. If your pipes freeze, your insurer may claim your negligence caused the damage, and you'll have to pay these expenses yourself.

To prevent your pipes from freezing:

  • Set your thermostat to a minimum of 55 degrees if you're away from home for an extended period.

  • Winterize your house by draining water from your home's plumbing system and shutting off the water if you're away for a few weeks. 

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Pipes that Burst?

Whether or not you're covered for burst pipes depends on your home insurance policy. Accidental water damage that occurs because of a burst pipe is usually covered by a homeowners insurance policy. Your home insurance will also cover cleaning, repairs and replacement of flooring that result from burst pipes. Insurers won't cover repairs if the pipe burst due to poor maintenance or neglect.

Will Homeowners Insurance Cover Additional Living Expenses After a Burst Pipe?

Home insurance includes loss of use coverage, which pays additional living expenses (ALE) if you're temporarily displaced from your home due to water damage. Your ALE insurance will pay the following costs until contractors finish repairs.

  • Hotel stays

  • Meals

  • Furniture rental

  • Storage costs

  • Pet boarding

  • Laundry expenses

The Right Homeowners Insurance Package Can Protect Your Plumbing

A home insurance policy pays for water damages from leaky or burst pipes when the cause is sudden or accidental. You can also fortify your coverage with optional riders for water backups and mold.

If you're unsatisfied with your current home insurance coverage or think you're paying too much, you can shop for an affordable new policy with enough coverage to protect your home. Get afree homeowners insurance quote so you can compare coverages and rates. Enter your zip code below to get started.

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