Q: Our neighbors recently had a pipe burst in their home, and it ruined thousands of dollars worth of their belongings in addition to damaging their property. I’m a little nervous about the same thing happening in our house because our pipes are quite old. Does homeowners insurance cover pipes that burst and the damage that it would cause?
A: The answer to your question is that it generally does, but there are exceptions. Since homeowners insurance covers water damage that is sudden and accidental, it will typically cover the damage a burst pipe causes to the home and to personal property. It can also cover expenses that occur if the homeowner is required to move out while repairs are being done, such as hotel costs. However, homeowners insurance does not typically cover the replacement of the pipe itself, and it generally won’t cover the damage that occurred because of the homeowner neglect. Read on to learn more about when homeowners insurance covers a burst pipe and when it does not.
Homeowners insurance generally covers damage from pipes that burst suddenly and accidentally.
Is water damage covered by insurance? It depends; homeowners insurance covers perils that are listed in the policy. Examples include windstorms, lightning, fire, vandalism, and theft. If the burst pipe was the result of a sudden and accidental peril, it’s likely to be covered. Burst pipes are also included if their failure is sudden and unforeseen. If the burst pipe happened because the pipes are old or there was a lack of maintenance, it’s likely the claim will be denied. So, does homeowners insurance cover water damage? As it relates to a burst pipe, the best homeowners insurance policies will generally cover accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam from a heating, plumbing, air conditioning, or automatic sprinkler system. Does homeowners insurance cover frozen pipes? Or to put it another way, does insurance cover frozen pipes? Yes, it can also cover frozen pipes, provided proper precautions were taken to keep the pipes from freezing in the first place.
Wondering what type of water damage is covered by homeowners insurance? If a pipe burst under the conditions listed above in a way that was sudden and accidental, it would probably be covered. If the pipe had been operating normally and had been properly maintained by the homeowner, it would most likely be covered under homeowners insurance if it were to burst. To properly maintain a pipe, the homeowner must have taken all necessary measures to insulate the pipe or turn off an outdoor water supply during the winter. Even with proper precautions, sometimes water can leak into colder pipes during the winter, expand while freezing, and cause the pipes to burst. In that case, if the homeowner can prove they took the proper action to prevent burst pipes, their insurance will be more likely to cover the damage. It’s important to check with the insurance company to see how each individual case would be covered by the policy.
However, insurance companies will usually deny a claim where the pipe burst due to homeowner negligence or general wear and tear.
While figuring out how to get insurance to pay for water damage, it’s important to be aware of the cases in which homeowners insurance will not cover burst pipes. Homeowners insurance will generally not cover a water damage insurance claim if the insurance company determines that it was caused by homeowner negligence. For instance, an older pipe that rusted out and burst would most likely not be covered. The insurance company would probably see this as a preventable occurrence because the homeowner was not replacing components that were visibly rusted out. Rust would be considered wear and tear and a general maintenance issue that needs to be attended to by the homeowner. There are other cases where the homeowner might be seen as responsible, such as if water to an outside line was not shut off during the winter, froze in the line, and burst the pipe.
To avoid being responsible for burst pipes yourself, make sure to maintain any systems that have water pipes. Regularly check any hoses, faucets, or water lines in the home for general wear and tear. Signs of rust or other degradation like cracks or leaks mean that these components need to be fixed or replaced. Shut off the water supply when you go on vacation, and try not to leave the home while the washing machine or dishwasher is running. Look closely for issues like active leaking. There are other signs of leaking, like calcification on the outside of pipes and moisture or darkening of surrounding wood, which can signal a potential issue with a pipe that needs to be addressed.
Also, a burst pipe doesn’t always mean that water is copiously spewing from the pipe and flooding everything. There might be a smaller burst in a hidden line that can cause more indirect signs. Signs include fluctuating water pressure throughout the home, discolored and stinky water, mold growth, odd noises in the walls like clanging, higher water bills than normal, and watermarks on the walls or ceiling. There may also be more obvious signs, such as wet, soggy walls or puddles forming under sinks or appliances. Knowing these signs can help homeowners move quickly to mitigate damage.
Homeowners insurance typically covers water damage from a burst pipe, but it may not cover the repair of the pipe itself.
You may be wondering, does homeowners insurance cover plumbing, and does homeowners insurance cover pipe replacement? While homeowners insurance will generally cover damage from a pipe that burst suddenly or accidentally, the repair of the pipe itself may not be covered. This is because basic homeowners insurance covers the actual damage but not the source of the damage. For instance, if a water heater broke and then spewed water all over the basement, homeowners insurance would cover possessions and any part of the dwelling damaged, but it would not pay to replace the water heater, since that would be considered part of regular maintenance by the homeowner and may be covered by a warranty.
Homeowners insurance works much the same way for burst pipes. Homeowners would have the damage covered in the case of a burst pipe, but they would still need to pay to replace or repair the pipe itself. Since the pipe was the actual cause of the damage, pipe repair or replacement does not fall into the purview of what is covered under homeowners insurance policies.
There are three types of coverage that can address water damage from a burst pipe.
Does home insurance cover water damage? Under certain circumstances, yes. When a home experiences water damage from a burst pipe, there are typically three parts of the homeowners insurance policy that can cover the burst pipe. The first type of coverage is personal property coverage. In the case of a burst pipe, it’s common for water to damage whatever personal possessions were in the vicinity. For instance, if a pipe burst downstairs, it might soak whatever was in storage down in the basement. The personal property part of the coverage would reimburse the homeowner for what was lost due to the water damage from the burst pipe. But exactly how much does insurance pay for water damage? That depends on the individual policy coverage, but in general a policy will either pay cash value, which is the depreciated value of the item, or it will pay the replacement cost for each item, which is what it will cost to buy the same item at today’s prices. That can help someone determine the type of personal property coverage and how much they need.
The second part of a homeowners insurance policy that can cover burst pipes is dwelling coverage. This generally covers any part of the home or other insured structure that sustained damage from the burst pipe. For instance, if a pipe burst in a wall and the wall sustained damage, dwelling coverage would cover the repair or replacement of the wall.
The third type of policy that applies to a burst pipe is the loss of use coverage. This covers any expenses incurred above normal living expenses if the residents of the home have to relocate while repairs are completed. For example, if the burst pipe caused so much damage that the homeowner had to stay in a hotel until repairs were complete, the loss of use coverage may reimburse the homeowner for hotel expenses that exceed their monthly mortgage payment up to the policy limits. Renters insurance also works similarly, but it only covers possessions and loss of use.
A home warranty that covers whole-home systems may help cover pipe repairs that are not covered by homeowners insurance.
Does home insurance cover plumbing? Or to put it another way, does insurance cover water damage? Since homeowners insurance only covers items that sustain water damage from a burst pipe or other plumbing issue, homeowners who want additional coverage might look into adding a home warranty in addition to their homeowners insurance policy. Combining a home warranty that covers burst pipe repair with a homeowners insurance policy will protect homeowners for both repairs and damage.
A home warranty is a service contract that can pay to repair or replace certain components or systems in the home in the event that they break. However, those systems or items have to be listed on the actual agreement for the home warranty to pay for them. Larger ticket items like plumbing systems may need additional coverage or certain service plans.
It’s important to shop around for home warranties to find the one that will cover plumbing systems and to get the best price. Homeowners should carefully review any agreements before signing and look for any exclusions to fully understand what the warranty covers. For instance, some home warranties may only repair broken systems or appliances rather than replacing them.