Wondering if your homeowners insurance policy covers plumbing? Whether you’re experiencing a plumbing issue or want to understand your policy better, it’s good to be prepared.
Homeowners insurance protects your property from the unexpected, like fire or storm damage. Luckily, many plumbing mishaps are covered. But when they aren’t, reviewing your policy and understanding what’s considered outside your coverage is essential.
Let’s look at what a standard home insurance policy defines as a plumbing problem, including what isn’t generally included with standard coverage.
Which Plumbing Issues Are Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
A conventional homeowners insurance policy covers sudden, unexpected and accidental damage caused to your home. These misfortunes may be an event like a natural disaster or just plain bad luck. Luckily, plumbing falls under this umbrella of coverage. For example, your policy will kick in if a pipe bursts suddenly, causing water damage to your home.
Other situations that are typically covered include:
- Frozen pipes that burst while your home is heated: If you live in a colder part of the country where low temperatures are the norm, heating your home to protect your pipes is a must. If the pipes still freeze and burst, even with a heated home, the damages should be covered by your policy.
- Appliance malfunctions: Sometimes, appliances seem to have a mind of their own. While serious malfunctions aren’t necessarily common, they do happen. So, if something goes wrong with your washing machine and it floods the laundry room floor, any resulting structural damage may be covered.
- Water damage to personal belongings after a pipe burst: If a pipe cracks or bursts and leaks water all over your valuables, the damage is usually covered.
Your home might be considered “high risk” if you have an older plumbing system that poses a higher risk to the insurance company. Talk to an insurance agent for details.
It’s always best to check with your insurance agent or carrier to verify what’s included in your policy. Various factors can impact insurability.
When Is Plumbing Not Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
In most cases, homeowners insurance won’t consider water damage related to preventable issues a covered loss, so it’s essential to stay on top of preventative measures like regular maintenance.
These situations are not likely to be covered by your insurer:
- Gradual leaks: Damage from a pipe or faucet that has leaked over a long period will probably be seen as neglect by most homeowners insurance companies. It’s best to nip any plumbing leaks in the bud when you notice them.
- Preventable water damage: A flood caused by a clogged drain or toilet that’s been needing repairs for months can leave you stuck paying the cost of damages yourself.
However, additional coverage, like adding a water backup coverage endorsement, can protect you from this situation.
- Burst pipes in an unheated home: Keeping your home heated in severely cold weather is a preventative measure. (Besides, who doesn’t want to be cozy when it’s freezing outside?) Failure to reasonably heat your house during chilly months could result in a frozen pipe. In this case, the lines and resulting damages wouldn’t be covered.
- Preventable mold damage: Once again, ignored leaky pipes can cause serious issues, including mold growth. And if neglect is at the heart of the failure to keep up with maintenance or repairs, you’ll be on your own!
- Sump pump or sewer backup: A standard policy doesn’t include coverage for these. Most of these failures occur because of neglect on the homeowner’s part. The good news is you generally will have the option to add a water backup coverage endorsement on your policy to extend coverage for sewage backup and overflows.
- Outdated steel plumbing: Materials like polybutylene and galvanized steel were once the norm in early 20th-century homes. Now that they are known to be hazardous, insurers usually won’t cover homes plumbed with pipes made from these materials.
Dealing with any of the above dilemmas is a nightmare on its own. Being without insurance coverage to cover the massive costs for restoration and repair magnifies that tenfold.
Keeping up with home maintenance is crucial to avoid many of these problems, so be mindful of regular attention to your plumbing system! If you have questions on specific coverage, contact your insurance provider.
What Types of Homeowners Insurance Coverage Might Include Plumbing?
Understanding every type of coverage that makes up your standard homeowners insurance policy. These include:
- Dwelling coverage: Dwelling refers to the basic structure of your home. Your homeowners insurance should cover sudden, accidental water damage that involves drywall, floorboards, ceilings and other structural parts of the property.
- Personal property coverage: When a sudden plumbing malfunction causes damage to your valuables, like clothing, a laptop, or furniture, personal property coverage will reimburse you for the replacement cost. Certain luxury items like jewelry may have a cap on separate coverage.
- Loss of use coverage: If for some reason your home becomes unlivable after a catastrophic event involving your plumbing system, loss of use coverage would pay for hotel stays, meals and other additional living expenses.
- Other structures coverage: If an outside structure like a detached garage or casita is damaged from a plumbing mishap, this coverage will kick in to pay for the necessary repairs.
Does a Home Warranty Cover Plumbing?
A home warranty can cover some plumbing costs in certain circumstances, but, like your standard insurance policy, it just depends on the circumstances (and the fine print).
Home warranty vs. homeowners insurance
A home warranty is a service agreement between you and the warranty company agreeing to specific repairs and reimbursements in the contract. The terms can vary greatly, but a home warranty can be a great addition to your regular insurance.
Just like a homeowners policy, the actual cause of the damage will determine if it is covered or not, so read through any home warranty contract carefully before making any assumptions.
How Can You Avoid Plumbing Issues?
Here are a few steps you can take to reduce the risk of significant plumbing problems:
- Stay on top of home maintenance
- Address minor issues like leaks or clogs promptly
- Replace outdated fixtures and old pipes (hiring a licensed plumber is recommended)
- “Winter-proof” your pipes (keep your home heated and drain valves opened)
- Understand your coverage front to back, including any exclusions
Taking care of leaks quickly requires being proactive. We advise the “look, listen, smell” approach to finding them:
- Look for signs of water leaks like a sagging roof
- Listen for trickling or dripping water
- Notice new musty or moldy smells
Keep Your Plumbing in Check
If you ask a homeowner who’s had to deal with extensive plumbing damage, they’d say it was a total nightmare! Keeping up with home maintenance and adding additional coverage to your policy can keep your plumbing working like a dream.