Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Frozen Water Pipes?

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Andrew Lee is insurance content writer and editor for Andrew holds a Bachelor's degree from Ryerson University and has extensive experience of writing content for financial websites. His expertise is especially strong in home and auto insurance.

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Every home owner’s nightmare is to have your water pipes freeze during extremely cold weather and then burst. So a big worry for most home owners is does homeowners insurance cover frozen water pipes? Usually, it does, under normal circumstances. What does this mean? Well, to make the answer simple, it means as long as you weren’t responsible for the incident through neglect of your upkeep duties as a home owner.

Essentially, while most home owners can rest assured that they are protected by their insurance if their water pipes freeze, there are three instances in which you might not be so lucky:

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1. Water Pipes Freeze Due to Lack of Proper Maintenance

As a home owner it is presumed that you will manage the upkeep of your home in a competent manner. If you failed to replace pipes that were corroded or old, or if you did not provide proper insulation for your pipes, then your insurance company may deny your claim for frozen and burst pipes.

2. Water Pipe Break Caused By Normal Aging 

Ordinarily, insurance companies do not cover any damage caused by the natural aging process of your pipes, for instance, the rupturing of old pipes or corrosion of pipes. In the case where your pipes freeze due to sudden cold, your policy will probably cover the resulting water damage. However, if the reason a pipe burst is just because it was too old and worn, you may hit a brick wall when it comes to reimbursement.

3. Frozen Water Pipe Caused by Neglect

In this case, you would be accused of having been able to quite easily have kept your pipe from bursting or freezing. Take a for instance. Perhaps you turned off the heat in your home at a time of extremely cold weather because you were going to be away on vacation. In this situation, your homeowners insurance agency could deny your claim for what can be considered a well-founded reason.

Does Homeowners Insurance Provide Protection In Case of Leaks?

If you have an emergency and your pipes leak, but it happens to be from another cause rather than freezing will you have insurance coverage? Since the majority of these kind of leaks are the result of general wear and tear, the expense of fixing the pipe, which just eroded, won’t be covered, but the damage caused by the leak, for example, wet drywall, warped flooring, etc., is normally covered providing the leak was unexpected and accidental.

What Water Damage Isn’t Covered?

While your homeowners insurance will provide protection for water damage that was due to an abrupt or accidental burst pipe or other plumbing mishap, there are certain instances where you won’t be covered and it’s vital that you are aware of them.

In the case of slow, small leaks that don’t lead to massive damage all at once, but gradually cause damage as time passes, you are not covered. This is as opposed to sudden and accidental pipe leaks or burst pipes which lead to instantly visible damage. These are usually covered, however, slow leaks that happen over the course of longer than one week are thought of as maintenance issues and thus are not covered under homeowners insurance.

Protect Your Home From Damage Caused By Frozen Pipes

As winter settles in, with the lowered temperature come some inevitable problems, and freezing and bursting pipes are right there at the top of them. When pipes freeze, you also have an increase in pressure, which can cause them to burst at their weakest point. Remember that attic pipes, as well as pipes located outside walls or in crawl spaces, are especially prone to freezing and bursting.

Once temperatures drop to 20 degrees F for several hours, your exposed pipes are at risk. To protect them you should insulate any exposed pipes in order to make sure that the temperature stays well above the freezing point.

How to Keep Your Pipes From Freezing

If you want to avoid frozen pipes and the resulting damage that usually comes with them, then you don’t need a quick reaction once danger is present. What you need is preparation ahead of time.

1. Exposed Pipes Must Be Covered With Insulation Sleeves

These are normally made from foam and can be purchased at almost any hardware store. Using these is an excellent and inexpensive way to keep your pipes warm and prevent them from freezing in the cold.

2. Seal Cracks In the Walls

One small crack in your wall that permits a small amount of cold air to enter doesn’t really appear to be a big issue, but if you add in all the little cracks that are present, you’ll discover that they are raising your heating bill by a good deal, and damaging your pipes.

Weather stripping will keep the air from getting in and you might also get a couple of draft stoppers for your doors leading to the outside.

3. Keep Outdoor Faucets Turned Off and Emptied

Be absolutely certain that you have turned off any outdoor faucets and drained them. If there is no water in your pipes, they won’t be able to freeze.

These are just a few of the ways in which you can prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting in the sometimes bitterly cold weather of winter.

What you can take away from all of this is that if your water pipes freeze and burst, your homeowners insurance company will likely cover the cost of repairs and replacement. But you must be careful to keep an eye on your pipes and to ensure that you cannot be held responsible for their freezing and bursting, otherwise, your insurance company will refuse to honor your claim. So always take the appropriate preventative measures and you should be fine.

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Andrew Lee is insurance content writer and editor for Andrew holds a Bachelor's degree from Ryerson University and has extensive experience of writing content for financial websites. His expertise is especially strong in home and auto insurance.