Will My Insurance Cover Broken Pipes?
If a pipe bursts in your home and ruins your floors, will your insurance cover it?
Short answer? It should do.
Long answer? There are a few things to take into consideration. So, let’s take a look.
Depending on your policy's specifics, your homeowner's insurance will cover the cost of the pipe replacement.
Water damage might also be covered with your insurance – but it depends on the amount of damage that has occurred.
Your homeowner’s insurance will typically cover you for damage that occurs in your home if it's the result of something sudden such as:
- Broken pipes
- Leaking air conditioning units
- Malfunctioning appliances
But there are a few other things that can affect your claim. This is something we deal with on a daily basis, so we’ve put together this guide to help you figure out if your insurance will cover damage from broken pipes in your home.
There are different types of pipe damage
If the cause of the damage to your home is because of a leaky pipe, then your insurance company might not cover it.
If a leaky pipe causes the damage to your home, then your insurance company might not cover it.
They won’t cover it because this would be considered a form of gradual damage. Although it might be from a broken pipe, many insurance companies will argue you could have fixed the pipe if you had noticed sooner and prevented the damage from happening.
Always check your pipes for slow leaks as water damage is easily prevented by fixing any cracked or broken pipes.
Most insurance policies won’t cover you for problems related to wear and tear or gradual damage.
What does homeowner insurance generally cover?
Your homeowner insurance will generally cover you for:
- Damage due to broken pipes, if they break under sudden or unforeseen circumstances
- Water damage that is done to your home due to a sudden burst pipe
- Water damage that occurs due to a leaky or rusty pipe (this is not always covered, though!)
If you feel like your claim wasn't treated fairly, or was denied without cause, consider getting a second opinion from a licensed professional.
How most insurance companies view broken pipes
Most insurance companies will consider a home’s plumbing to be under regular homeowner maintenance.
Because of this, you are responsible for making sure that pipes don't freeze, get clogged or blocked, and maintained on a regular basis.
It would be best if you were on the lookout for any mold, mildew, or any other signs of wear and tear.
If you notice even the smallest crack, hairline fracture, or leak, it's your responsibility to get it fixed as your insurance might not cover you if it gets worse.
Any damage that develops gradually, or over a long time is generally not covered by your insurance.
Gradual damage includes:
- Slow leaks
- Deteriorating pipes
However, it’s important to note that leaky pipes are different from broken or burst pipes.
A leaky pipe will only create a small amount of damage, but a burst or broken pipe could potentially flood your entire home.
The damage that is caused by the destruction of the burst or broken pipe will be covered under the all-perils section of your insurance.
If you live in a colder area and pipes often break due to freezing or a lack of heat in your home, then your insurance company might not approve your claim. This is because this type of break in your pipe could be seen as negligence.
To be covered by insurance, broken pipes must happen suddenly and by accident. They shouldn’t be preventable. Ignoring a leaking pipe that leads to a burst will also be seen as negligence as the damage could have been prevented.
How to avoid having a water damage claim denied
If you don’t want to be caught for negligence, then it’s important to have your plumbing regularly inspected by a licensed plumber. By maintaining records of the repairs, inspections, and maintenance you've had completed by a professional, you'll have evidence to help you if you have to make a claim.
Different areas of your home’s plumbing will need to be inspected at different times as they all have varying life spans. Replacing pipes that have served their purpose is an important part of keeping your plumbing in order. It will help prevent any disasters and keep your home safe.
If you live in a colder area, you should make sure to leave your home’s heat on during the winter, especially if you’re leaving the house for a long time. You should also make sure your pipes are well insulated to prevent them from freezing and bursting.
You want to make sure you have a water shutoff valve. It’s a necessity for every home to have one. Every household member needs to know where it's located and knows how to operate it if you need to shut off the water in an emergency situation.
All of this will help make sure that in the case of a broken or burst pipe, you’ll be able to claim on your insurance.
What to do if your claim is denied
Suppose you've been denied coverage and think it was unfairly denied. In that case, you should consider getting a second opinion from a professional plumber, or from a consumer advocacy organization that will be familiar with your situation and how the insurance works in your region.