Homeowners insurance covers homeowners against sudden and accidental damage. But does homeowners insurance cover plumbing? Who is responsible for plumbing repairs in a rental?
Home insurance covers damages caused by plumbing issues, but only in certain circumstances, like water damages caused by unexpected and sudden plumbing issues like a pipe bursts. They do not cover water damage that occurs gradually, like a slow leak or plumbing problems caused by poor maintenance or neglect.
Your coverage depends on the insurance provider and the policy you are paying for. However, they do not cover the cost of replacing plumbing or repairs.
Plumbing issues can cause extensive and expensive damages; therefore, it is crucial to understand the plumbing damages covered and not covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy.
When Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Plumbing?
Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover all plumbing issues, but it does cover all unexpected and accidental plumbing problems like broken pipes. Moreover, the coverage you will get depends on the policy you are paying for.
For instance, we have open peril homeowners insurance policies that cover plumbing and other property damages unless they are excluded. On the other hand, peril policies cover listed hazards only.
Comparing different policies and understanding the policy terms is essential before paying home insurance premiums. Understanding the plumbing problems that are not covered helps you to make the right choice.
Here are common plumbing problems covered by home insurance covers
Pipes that burst unexpectedly or suddenly
Homeowners insurance cover plumbing damages caused by a pipe that bursts suddenly and unexpectedly. However, they do not cover the cost of repairing the burst pipe but the resulting water damage, like cleaning up water from the floor.
Frozen burst pipes
Most plumbing pipes freeze and burst during the cold months, but the good news is that home insurance policies cover the resulting damages. However, the damages will only be covered if your house is appropriately heated.
Most homeowners insurance cover plumbing damages caused by a broken pipe under a slab. However, they do not cover damages where the pipe burst occurred due to issues you could control, like tree roots. The insurance expects you to get rid of tree roots getting in the way of your plumbing system. Moreover, they do not cover the cost of repairing or replacing the burst pipe.
Plumbing Costs Covered By Home Insurance Cover
Home insurance policies offer coverages that cover water damages caused by plumbing issues. The coverage options include:
The dwelling coverage covers the structure of your property and the home’s inbuilt appliances and fixtures. The insurance policy will cover the cost of damages to the roof, ceiling, floor, walls, insulation, and cabinets. They also cover water damage on appliances like the water heater and washing machines. The dwelling coverage covers repairs up to your policy limit.
The personal property coverage covers water damage on your personal belongings, like electronics, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs. For instance, if water from a burst pipe damages your TV, the property coverage will pay the replacement or repair costs.
However, your policy might have a limit to some personal items like luxury jewelry. Remember that the exact type of coverage depends on your insurance company and policy. Some policies cover the depreciated value, while others reimburse the full value.
Loss of use/additional living expenses
Suppose your house is inhabitable, and you are forced to move out temporarily for repairs. In that case, your home insurance may pay for travel, hotel, food expenses, and any other expenses incurred under the loss of use coverage.
However, the loss of use coverage does not pay for expenses unrelated to the water damage, including mortgage payments, insurance premiums, or utilities.
The other structure coverage covers water damage on structures detached from the main home’s structure, like the garage or guest house. For instance, if plumbing issues cause water damage on a free-standing garage, the other structures policy may reimburse the cost of repairs.
Personal liability coverage
Personal liability coverage covers damages to your neighbor’s property caused by your plumbing issues. For instance, if a burst pipe from your plumbing system damages your neighbor’s property, your home insurance policy should cover the cost of the damages.
Plumbing Problems That Aren’t Covered By Homeowners Insurance
There are plumbing problems and water damage that are not covered by home insurance. Before you settle for a homeowners insurance policy, you must take time to understand what is excluded. Learning some basic plumbing terminology and terms will go a long way. Home insurance cover does not cover water damages caused by:
Lack of maintenance
Homeowners insurance does not cover water damages caused by plumbing problems that could be prevented through regular repair and maintenance. For instance, if you do not fix or replace a pipe that is wearing out, the home insurance will not cover the damages resulting when the pipe eventually bursts. The insurance adjuster will assess the situation and deny you reimbursement on the claims that you did not carry out routine repair and maintenance.
Suppose your pipes freeze and burst during the winter because you did not turn on your heater in the affected room. In that case, your homeowners insurance company may deny your claim stating that the damages occurred due to a negligent act.
It is expected that pipes burst during the winter, and the damages are covered by home insurance, but you must take all necessary precautions to prevent the frozen pipes from bursting.
Normal wear and tear
Plumbing systems wear and tear with time. If your house has an old plumbing system, the pipes are most likely worn out and need repair or replacement. If plumbing issues that cause water damage occurs; as a result, your insurer might deny your claim because the problem was not sudden or accidental.
Most home insurance covers do not cover damages caused by sewage backup. The good news is they offer affordable coverage for sewage and sump pump damages. Therefore, talk to your insurance and add sewage insurance because sewage damage can be very destructive and expensive.
Homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage caused by excess rain, overflowing lakes or dams near your house, or if snowmelt enters your house. Consider purchasing a flood insurance policy from an insurer that participates in national flood insurance program, if your location is a high-risk flood area.
Most home insurance policies do not cover mold damage related to plumbing issues. However, they provide a mold damage rider for homeowners whose property is at risk of mold damage. For instance, if you live in a warm, humid area.
In addition to purchasing the mold damage rider, you should ventilate rooms susceptible to mold, including the basements, bathrooms, garages, cabinets under the sink, laundry rooms, and crawl spaces.
Repairs that cost more than your limit
If a plumbing problem causes water damage that costs more than your coverage limit, you will pay the excess cost from your pocket.
Filing A Home Insurance Claim For Plumbing Damage
Before filing insurance claims for water damages caused by a plumbing issue, talk to your insurance agent. Remember that you must pay out of your pocket up to your deductible for your claim to be covered. A deductible is an amount homeowners must pay before the insurance pays for the covered loss.
If the cost of water damage is less than the deductible amount, there is no need to file a claim. For instance, if a burst pipe caused water damage that will cost $200 to repair and your deductible is $1000, filing a claim does not make financial sense.
Filing claims for minor damages may cause your insurance premiums to rise or, worse, cause your insurance company to drop you. However, if the plumbing problem has ruined your wall, ceiling, furniture, and electronics or forces you to relocate temporarily for repairs, talk to your insurance agent and file a claim.
To help you get maximum compensation for the water damage:
Record the damage
Take pictures, videos, and any other possible evidence to show the extent of the damages. Keep a record of all the items that were damaged and their value. This record will help you file a claim and get fair compensation.
Prevent further damage
After taking enough damage records, the next step is preventing further damage. For instance, in case of a burst pipe, switch off the main water supply to stop more water from flowing.
Additionally, start wiping the standing water from the floor to prevent additional damage to the flooring. However, you should not throw away anything damaged or used to prevent further damage until the claims adjuster inspects the damage.
Get repair estimates
Call a licensed contractor to estimate the cost of repairs. If the damages are on the ceiling, hire a ceiling contractor to determine how much it will cost to repair the ceiling. These quotes will help your insurance determine how much they will reimburse you.
What To Do If Your Plumbing Damage Claim Is Denied
If your insurer denies your claim, consider the following:
- Hire a public insurance adjuster to reexamine the damages. This could convince your insurance to take up your claim. However, you will incur an extra cost of hiring the insurance adjuster.
- File an appeal and submit evidence showing that the denial is improper. Ensure to file an appeal within the appeal window given by your insurance company.
- File a complaint with the state’s insurance commissioner if you believe your claim was denied unfairly.
How To Reduce Plumbing Problems?
Plumbing problems must occur, but there are steps you can take to reduce frequent plumbing problems. These include:
- Inspect your pipes annually- the best way to deal with plumbing issues is to prevent them from happening, which is only possible through routine care and maintenance. A professional plumber will identify and repair a plumbing problem before it happens. Additionally, they will tell you when your pipes need replacement to prevent them from bursting.
- Install a water monitor- water monitors identify a drop in water pressure which indicates leaking pipes. If identified early, water leaks are easy and cheap to repair.
- Insulate your plumbing system- insulating your pipes prevents them from freezing and bursting during the cold season. For the best results, insulate both cold and hot water pipes. In addition to insulation, prepare your plumbing system for winter by draining the pipes, opening drain valves, and keeping the house heated.
- Be mindful of what you flush- flushing items other than number 1, number 2, and tissue paper puts your plumbing system at risk of clogs and sewage issues that are costly to repair.