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Plumbing problems can cause major problems for homeowners, whether it’s a faulty sump pump or a burst pipe that leads to flooding. Having home insurance can help, but exactly what it covers will depend on the insurance provider and the individual policy.
Understanding whether or not your home insurance policy covers plumbing damage is crucial, as these types of issues can cost thousands of dollars to repair.
Here’s what you need to know about home insurance and plumbing:
Does home insurance cover plumbing?
Typically, home insurance covers sudden and accidental plumbing damage and leaks. For example, if the pipes in your house freeze – assuming your house is properly heated – and this results in your pipes bursting as well as water damage, your police should pay for the repairs.
Your home insurance policy offers different coverages that may apply to plumbing damage:
- Lodging: As the main part of your home insurance policy, home insurance pays for structural repairs to your home. For example, your policy could pay for repairs to your floor and walls if an accidental leak damages them.
- Other books: This part of your coverage is for structures that are not part of your main residence, such as your guest house or detached garage. In other words, if a burst pipe or other type of accidental plumbing problem causes damage to these structures, your policy may provide coverage.
- Personal property: If your belongings are damaged due to a broken or burst pipe, for example, your insurance may cover them at their actual cash value (depreciated value) or replacement cost (full value) – the exact type of coverage for personal property depends on your policy. .
- Loss of use: Your policy could pay for meals, hotel stays or other temporary living expenses if a plumbing accident makes your home uninhabitable. However, loss of use coverage does not cover expenses for which you were responsible before the damage occurred, such as your mortgage, utilities, and insurance payments.
If you’re not sure what’s covered or excluded on your home insurance policy, take the time to talk to your insurance company or check your policy’s declaration page to see what’s included.
Plumbing Coverage Limits
Coverage limits for plumbing damage depend on your home insurance policy and the type of damage to your home or property. You should have chosen your accommodation cover limit when you purchased your policy, so check the policy declaration page for the exact amount.
Insurers typically base personal property and loss of use coverage on a percentage of your home limit. Coverage for loss of use is typically around 20%, while coverage for personal property is typically 50% to 70%. For example, if your home coverage is $250,000 and your personal property is limited to 60%, the limit would be $150,000. Meanwhile, a 20% loss of use coverage limit would insure you for up to $50,000 of expenses.
When purchasing your policy, it’s best to choose a home coverage limit high enough to cover the full replacement cost of your home. That way, if a plumbing problem causes major damage to your home, you won’t have to worry about paying for repairs out of pocket.
When is damage to your plumbing not covered?
Unfortunately, your home insurance policy does not cover all types of plumbing damage, including the following causes:
- Regular wear: Homes with older plumbing systems may have worn pipes that you will eventually need to replace or repair. Since this doesn’t count as a sudden or accidental event, your insurance company probably won’t cover it.
- Lack of maintenance: Insurers consider home maintenance to be part of the homeowner’s responsibility. If the damage is due to your negligence, the insurer may not pay for repairs.
- Repairs that cost more than the coverage limits: You will have to pay for repairs that exceed your coverage limits.
Other plumbing and water damage warranties
Your standard home insurance policy doesn’t cover other types of damage, so it’s a good idea to consider adding the following coverages:
- Sewer/Water Back-Up Cover: You may want to purchase additional coverage limits if you’re concerned about backflows damaging your plumbing or if you typically have a large number of storms in your area.
- Mold Damage Waiver: If your plumbing is causing mold, most insurers won’t provide coverage. Consider getting some if you live in a hot, humid area, or if you think your home might be susceptible to mold.
- Service Range Coverage: You can add this endorsement to your insurance policy if you are concerned that your plumbing could damage a utility line that enters your home.
Learn more: Does home insurance cover natural disasters?
How to avoid broken pipes
You can avoid broken pipes by taking these steps:
- Cut down trees. If you have trees near your home or see overgrown root structures, consider cutting them down.
- Prepare your home for cold weather. Protect your pipes during the winter months by adding insulation to your home. Seal any leaks that allow cold air to enter your home, such as those around doors or windows.
- Keep the faucet open. In extremely cold weather, let your faucet drip. This will allow water to continue flowing and help prevent your pipes from freezing.
- Leave the fire on. Don’t turn off your thermostat, even if you leave your house in cold weather. Make sure no area of your home drops below 55 degrees.
How to file a claim for a plumbing damage
In most cases, you will need to follow these steps to file a claim for plumbing damage:
- Document your losses. Taking photos and videos of the damage and recording an inventory of all damaged personal items will give you and your insurance company an idea of what needs to be repaired or replaced. It can also help speed up the process once you’ve met with the adjuster.
- Contact your insurer. In most cases you can call your insurer, but some allow you to complete an online form. In any case, carefully follow the instructions of your insurer.
- Perform temporary repairs in an emergency. Your insurer may allow you to make repairs to protect your home from further damage. To make sure your supplier pays them, keep all receipts and submit them for later reimbursement. However, don’t do anything major or permanent until the adjuster comes to your home.
- Work with the insurance adjuster. Your insurer will send an expert to your home to assess the damage. Depending on what the adjuster states on their report, you may receive a settlement offer from your insurer to help pay for repairs or replacement of the property.
What to do if your plumbing damage claim is denied
Consider taking the following steps if your insurer denies your home insurance claim:
- Get another opinion. Seek out a public insurance adjuster to re-examine the damage to your home. They can help you assess your losses and settle your claim, although you must pay a fee for their services.
- Call. Once you have reviewed the denial letter and determined that the reason was not based on accurate information, you can file an appeal with the insurer and submit additional evidence to support your claim. Depending on the insurer, you only have a certain amount of time to do this.
- File a complaint. Consider contacting your state’s insurance commissioner if you believe your claim has been wrongfully denied.
Keep reading: How to dispute a denied home insurance claim
Disclaimer: All insurance related services are provided by Young Alfred.