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Keeping up with home maintenance is costly enough, but plumbing issues can cost thousands of dollars, if not more, to repair. Homeowners insurance covers damage to some plumbing issues, but what is and isn’t covered varies based on the insurance company, policy, and type of water damage.
Let’s take a look at what homeowners insurance typically covers, and whether you should purchase additional coverage to provide more protection that your standard policy won’t.
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Does homeowners insurance cover plumbing issues?
Homeowners policies may cover plumbing issues depending on the nature of the damage. A policy may cover water damage if it happens suddenly or due to an unforeseen circumstance. But damage that happens gradually or from lack of upkeep usually isn’t covered.
What plumbing issues does homeowners insurance typically cover?
- Frozen pipes in a heated home — If you live in an area with low temperatures and your pipes freeze and burst, you may be covered if your home is heated.
- Burst or broken pipes — Any sudden and unexpected damage is usually covered.
- Ruptured appliances or systems — If parts of your home are damaged due to an appliance malfunction, like a washing machine leak, the damage may be covered.
What plumbing issues might not be covered by homeowners insurance?
- Damage from old pipes — If your pipes are corroded or are too old, your policy may or may not cover the damage.
- Leaks or mold — Pipe leaks in areas that are hidden may be covered depending on where the leak occurred in your home. The same goes for mold if the damage is in areas you can’t readily access.
- Improper installation — Water damage from systems or pipes as a result of faulty installation may not be covered.
What plumbing issues are typically not covered by homeowners insurance?
- Preventable damage — Pipes that are out in the open and have been leaking for some time are usually not covered, as is mold damage that could’ve been prevented.
- Sewer line backups — Sump pumps are also typically not covered by homeowners insurance.
- Frozen pipes in an unheated home — Dwellings that aren’t heated won’t be covered for frozen pipes that cause water damage.
Types of homeowners insurance coverage to help protect you when you have water damage
A standard homeowners insurance policy usually includes different types of coverage that can help protect you if you have water damage. You’ll have to file a claim with your insurance company for any of this coverage to kick in.
This type of coverage protects you against damage to the structure of your home. If a burst or leaking pipe causes damage to your home, dwelling coverage can pay to repair your damaged walls, floors, and cabinetry, up to the limit stated in your policy.
Loss of use coverage
Loss of use coverage typically pays for temporary expenses if your home is uninhabitable while you make repairs, such as hotel stays or meals.
Water damage that floods your home or makes it uninhabitable in some other way could mean loss of use coverage will pay for your additional living expenses while repairs are being done to your home.
Other structures coverage
This section of your insurance policy will cover structures that aren’t your main dwelling, like a detached garage or a guest house. If water damage occurs due to a plumbing accident, for example, your policy may cover repairs to these structures.
Personal liability coverage
Accidental water damage to another person’s property or belongings while on your property could be covered under your policy. That means your insurance may pay to repair or replace the damaged item.
Personal property coverage
Water damage to your personal belongings could be covered by your homeowners insurance. Depending on your policy, you could either get assistance for repairs or be reimbursed for new items.
To receive coverage, you’ll more than likely have to pay a deductible first. Coverage limits may also apply, so it’s a good idea to review your policy. If you want to make changes to your home insurance policy, you can contact your insurer.
If you’re thinking about changing your insurance coverage, you can use Credible to compare home insurance rates from multiple carriers.
How do you file a claim for plumbing damage?
Here’s how to file a claim for plumbing damage with your homeowners insurance company:
- Notify your homeowners insurance company. Many insurers require policyholders to file a timely claim after any damage that’s occurred. Your policy and insurance company usually have reporting requirements, and many have multiple ways to file a claim to make it easy for you, such as online, over the phone, or even through a mobile app.
- Document your claim. Gather as much evidence as you need to ensure your chances of your claim being approved are high. Take lots of photos or videos to provide as much detail of the damage as possible.
- Make emergency repairs. With some policies, you may be able to start making repairs right away in order to prevent further damage while your claim is being processed. If your insurance policy allows it, make sure to document the damage before repairs, and keep copies of all your receipts so you can be reimbursed later.
- Follow up with your insurance company. After filing a claim, your insurance company will take time to look at the evidence you’ve provided. You can follow up on your claim if you haven’t heard back from them in a timely manner. If your claim is approved, you’ll receive a payout from the insurance company (minus your deductible) and can use the money to cover the home repairs.
Should you file a claim for plumbing damage?
Just because you can file a claim with your homeowners insurance company doesn’t always mean you should. For example, if the damage is relatively minor and the cost of the repairs is less than your deductible, it may not make sense to file a claim since you’ll have to pay for it all out of pocket anyway. Your insurance premium can increase when you make a claim, so it may not be worth it to file a claim for minor damage.
You can consider additional coverage options that may help protect you from plumbing issues when your standard policy doesn’t. The following options may be helpful, especially if you have older plumbing or you live an in area prone to sewage overflows:
- Flood insurance — This type of insurance provides coverage for flood damage that occurs outside of your home, which may come in handy if you live on a floodplain or in a coastal community. You’ll typically have to purchase it through the National Flood Insurance Program.
- Mold damage — You may be able to purchase a mold rider that’ll increase your coverage limit and may cover causes of mold typically not covered under a standard policy, such as mold that gradually grows in a damp area.
- Water or sewage backups — This type of endorsement coverage will protect you in the event of sewer line or sump pump backups and overflows. Depending on the policy, you may be covered for the cost of repairs and cleanup.
Credible makes it easy to compare home insurance rates to find the coverage that works best for you.
To help you prevent costly repairs, here are some things you can do to protect your plumbing:
- Trim tree roots. Tree roots that may interfere with your plumbing could cause hazardous situations, such as blockages and leaks. Consider having your pipes inspected and trim any roots that could be invasive.
- Replace pipes. If you live in an old home or your pipes are corroded, it’s best to hire a professional to inspect and replace pipes if necessary. Yes, you’ll have to spend money, but it could save you from costly damage in the future.
- Winterize pipes. Any action that can prevent your pipes from freezing is especially helpful if you won’t be in the home during the coldest months. You can consider opening drain valves, removing excess standing water from pipes, checking sinks and tub drains with drain traps, and draining hot water from your water tank.