Water damage due to broken pipes and other perils cause a great deal of damage for U.S. homeowners each year. In fact, it holds the spot as the second most frequently claimed cause of loss according to ISO.
Being the case, homeowners need home insurance that covers plumbing.
If you have been wondering how to find home insurance that will protect you against plumbing problems, here’s everything you need to know, including:
- What homeowners insurance typically covers
- Why plumbing related claims get denied
- How to increase your chances of claim approval
- Answers to frequently asked questions about homeowners insurance and plumbing
Lastly, we’ll help you find the best home insurance company for your needs.
Does homeowners insurance cover plumbing repairs?
Each homeowners insurance policy has a list of perils that are covered and, in some cases, perils which are excluded.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), there are eight types of homeowners policies which are pretty standard across the country (with small variations by some states and companies).
The policy types are labeled as HO and a number (i.e., HO-1, HO-2, HO-3…). HO-1 policies are the most basic and don’t cover plumbing malfunctions.
HO-2, HO-3 (the most popular), and HO-5 all usually cover the following:
- Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam from within a plumbing system
- Freezing of a plumbing systems and pipes
- Sudden and accidental tearing apart, cracking, burning, or bulging of pipes and other household systems
So if you have an issue with your plumbing or pipes and it causes damage to your home and belongings, the damages may be covered. The key determining factor is whether the incident was sudden and accidental or gradual.
If it is decided that the issue gradually developed, the claim will be denied. However, if the problem was sudden and accidental, it will be approved.
Dwelling coverage will cover the damages to your home, personal property coverage will cover damages to your belongings, and loss of use coverage will cover the costs to live elsewhere (when applicable).
Keep in mind, homeowners insurance pays to repair the damages but will not pay to repair the cause of the problem, which in this case would be the plumbing. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to pay to repair the cause of the claim as it falls under normal maintenance.
Common reasons plumbing claims are denied
When determining if your plumbing problem gradually developed or happened suddenly and accidentally, insurers will look for a few tell-tale signs of negligence. These include:
- Poorly executed repairs
- A lack of repairs to the home
- Damaged walls, floors, or ceiling due to long-term leaking
- Damage due to water seeping in from foundation cracks
- Deteriorating roofing
Additionally, they will want to know if any other factors contributed to the accident. For example, if a person leaves during the winter without turning on their heater and their pipes freeze and crack, the damage would be the owner’s fault and responsibility.
6 tips for plumbing claim approval
To increase the chances that your plumbing works properly and is covered in the case of malfunction, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Inspect your home regularly for signs of water damage
- Promptly take care of any issues you notice
- Perform regular maintenance on your plumbing system in spring and fall
- Take preventative action to prevent problems (like leaving your heater on when leaving in winter)
- Keep records of all repairs and maintenance performed
- Ensure you understand your insurance policy and select the proper coverage for your needs
By staying on top of your home’s maintenance, you will likely prevent many problems, catching them before they develop into big issues.
If something does happen, you will be prepared to prove that the event was not preventable and qualifies as “sudden and accidental.”
Frequently asked questions about home insurance and plumbing
How much does it cost to repair plumbing?
According to HomeAdvisor, homeowners spend between $171 to $452 when hiring a plumber for a typical job. Further, the cost per hour ranges from $45 to $150.
What are the signs that your home has broken pipes?
Signs that can hint to broken pipes include unusual sounds when you turn on the water in your house, strange smells, walls with discoloration or bulging, low water pressure, and unusually high water bills.
How should you prevent bursting pipes?
Pipes most commonly burst due to freezing. Therefore, you don’t want to leave water in piping that will freeze (sprinkler and pool systems) and want to insulate piping that is exposed to the outdoors.
Does homeowners insurance cover clogged pipes?
The damage from clogged pipes may be covered if it is deemed sudden and accidental. However, note that back-up from an outside sewer or drain is not covered in a traditional policy.
Does homeowners insurance cover broken pipes under the slab?
It depends on the cause of the broken pipes. If they are broken due to a covered peril outside of themselves, they would be covered.
If they are broken due to negligence, the cost would be on the homeowner. If they are broken due to a pipe-related peril, the cost to remove the slab may be covered but not the pipes themselves.
Does homeowners insurance cover pipe replacement?
Homeowners insurance does not typically cover pipe replacement if a pipe breaks. It may cover the damage caused by the broken pipe, but not the pipe itself.
However, if the pipe were damaged due to another covered peril, like a fire, then the pipe would be covered by dwelling coverage.
What type of water damage is covered by homeowners insurance?
Water damage from flooding, unresolved maintenance issues and water back-up from a sewer or drain is not considered a covered peril and will likely not be covered by homeowners insurance
Shop homeowners insurance
When shopping for a home insurance provider, you will typically only find small variances in the coverage types available, and most will cover plumbing.
However, now you know that not all plumbing issues are covered. They have to meet the insurer’s sudden and accidental requirements.
Since there is not much difference in the coverage you will get from one provider to the next, other factors will determine which company is best for you.
To compare insurers side-by-side by price, limits, service quality, and other features, visit our home insurance review page.