Plumbing issues are the bane of every homeowner’s existence. Perhaps the issues are small but can be easily fixed with the help of a few YouTube how-to videos: dripping faucets, clogged toilets or drains, or a slow-draining sink. Other times, the plumbing problems are more severe and, quite frankly, the stuff of nightmares: burst pipes, sewer system backups, or busted pipes due to age and wear.
These more severe plumbing problems, when left unchecked, can lead to even greater issues and higher costs. For example, burst pipes can cause indoor flooding, which can lead to extensive damage to a home.
Now that people are spending more time than ever before indoors, it is a good idea to not only check your plumbing and make sure everything is in order, but to check your homeowner’s insurance and see what is, and is not, covered if a plumbing issue arises in your home.
What Types of Plumbing Problems Are Not Covered?
Some types of plumbing damage are not covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy. For example, most insurers will not cover normal wear and tear, as well as water damage that was caused by a backed-up drain or flooding (unless, of course, you obtained additional coverage that specifically covers these types of instances). Insurance companies expect property owners to be responsible for general maintenance, such as making sure that pipes remain unclogged and are screwed tight, and to be observant when it comes to signs of water damage. Because of this presumed responsibility, insurers will not cover any plumbing problems that could have been reasonably prevented.
One common claim that many insurers deny, especially during the winter season, is a burst pipe. This typically occurs when people leave town for the holidays and completely turn off their heating systems. As a result, the cold temperatures cause pipes to freeze and the subsequent contraction can lead them to burst. Insurers deny this claim because, in this scenario, you could have prevented the damage by not shutting off your heating system entirely.
It is important to note that most insurers consider repiping to be a preventative measure and will not cover the cost of that project. Most insurers will not even provide insurance for certain types of piping, like polybutylene piping, due to how quickly they deteriorate and lead to plumbing problems.
What Types of Plumbing Problems Are Covered?
Generally, most plumbing problems are not covered under homeowners insurance because plumbing issues tend to be a result of a homeowner’s negligence or recklessness. Homeowners are expected to conduct routine maintenance on their plumbing, and insurance is there to cover the instances where even with routine maintenance, the issue could not have been prevented.
Most insurers will cover any damage resulting from corroded or failing pipes, provided that the leak was “sudden and accidental.” This means that the plumbing issue, and subsequent damage, was unexpected and happened quickly.
One of the most common types of plumbing problems that is covered is damage due to busted pipes, provided that they collapsed or deteriorated suddenly.
Different Types of Coverage
There are three types of coverage that can protect you if you suffer from an extensive and sudden plumbing problem. They are dwelling coverage, personal property coverage, and additional living expenses coverage.
- A dwelling coverage clause protects you if the structure of your home (such as the walls or the floorboards) is damaged. It will also cover damage to built-in appliances, such as a water heater or a washing machine.
- Under your personal property policy coverage, you may be reimbursed for any personal belongings that are destroyed when a plumbing problem is extensive enough to cause damage to your home. This can include electronics like a TV, but it can also include clothes, furniture, and more. Some luxury items, such as jewelry or musical instruments, may have coverage limits unless your policy says otherwise.
- Additional living expenses coverage will generally reimburse you for regular costs incurred if you are temporarily displaced from your home due to plumbing issues. This can include hotel, travel, and food expenses. It can also cover costs such as pet boarding and laundry. However, this coverage will not cover all of your expenses incurred during the time when you have to relocate – just the additional costs above what you would usually pay.
Make sure to conduct routine maintenance when it comes to your home’s plumbing to prevent potentially small issues from becoming a catastrophe. It is important to review your insurance policy carefully to understand what is covered and what is not when it comes to your home’s plumbing. If you have any questions, or if you want to learn about what your options may be in terms of extending your coverage, you should speak to your insurance representative immediately.