Homeowners insurance covers damage and repairs for plumbing that belongs to the dwelling. For instance, pipes located throughout the home and underneath it are covered. However, outside plumbing that is not part of the home’s internal system, such as a water main, is generally excluded.
Why Water Main Damages Are Excluded
Your home’s piping connects to the city’s water system, provided you live in a municipality and do not receive water from your well and use a septic system. Outside plumbing that is part of a municipal system is the city’s or village’s responsibility. Therefore, that entity bears responsibility for maintaining those pipes and the liability for damages resulting from their malfunction.
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For example, a water main could break and result in a deluge of water streaming through your home. Clearly, the damages from this event could be extreme. Likely, either your homeowners insurance or the municipality is responsible for your damages. If the problem emanates from your home’s piping, your homeowners policy should cover it. If a water main break was the problem, then you have a claim against the city or village.
What Water Damage Is Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
Homeowners insurance pays for damages from sudden accidental events. Following this logic, policies include compensation for damages within your home’s internal plumbing system that are sudden and not the result of some type of negligence or intentional act.
For instance, pipe bursts, by their nature, are sudden. Anyone in the residence will know very quickly when a pipe bursts and damage happens with great rapidity. The streaming water will pour through walls and ceilings, destroying everything in its path. The flow spreads quickly from room to room, soaking the floors and ruining personal property. Left unchecked, this type of damage can result in enormous losses. Based on these factors, there can be little doubt that pipe bursts qualify as sudden.
Most also qualify as accidental. For example, cold weather is a common cause of pipe bursts. The frigid air seeps into the spaces where the pipes run. This can cause the temperature of the pipes to fall. If they freeze, then the pipe will burst.
If this happens to you, your homeowners insurance policy provides compensation.
However, a claim can be denied under certain circumstances. For example, if a home was left unheated, then a claim for a burst pipe may also not hold water.
Pipes need to be kept from freezing, so insurance companies consider it axiomatic that a home must be kept at a reasonable temperature. If a homeowner went out of town and decided to save money by cutting off the heat, claims adjusters could consider this decision neglect. Heating is part of maintaining the pipes, and cutting it off can cause a pipe to burst. Since the homeowner chose to leave the home unheated, the burst may no longer be considered sudden and accidental. Instead, the pipe was slowly frozen by the lack of heat and the homeowners neglect.
Coverage for Outside Pipes Depends on Whose Pipe Caused the Damage
When the home’s pipe bursts in a sudden and accidental event, coverage from a homeowners insurance policy is usually provided. However, the municipality bears responsibility if one of the city’s pipes causes water damage. In addition, a water leak from a neighbor’s pipe may impact your property, in which case that person’s homeowners insurance policy should cover the damage.