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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Plumbing?

Updated March 14, 2022
Christy Bieber
By: Christy Bieber

Our Insurance Expert

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Homeowners insurance protects property owners against common calamities. But does homeowners insurance cover plumbing issues? In most cases, yes -- but things can get complicated, as some plumbing disasters aren't covered. This guide will answer the question, "Does homeowners insurance cover plumbing?" under several circumstances.

When does homeowners insurance cover plumbing?

Are you asking yourself, "When does homeowners insurance cover plumbing problems?" There are many cases when it does. In fact, water damage due to a busted pipe or related issues is one of the most common reasons for insurance claims.

However, not all plumbing problems are covered. Some property owners have open peril policies. These cover plumbing and other damage -- unless it falls within an exclusion. Others are called peril policies and cover only listed hazards, meaning they'll cover plumbing problems only if they're listed in the policy.

It's important to read your policy carefully. Check the fine print to see what is covered and excluded. Here are some common plumbing problems home insurance policies usually cover.

A pipe that bursts suddenly is covered by homeowners insurance

When a homeowner is wondering, "Does homeowners insurance cover plumbing?" it's helpful to know that it usually covers sudden and accidental water damage. Damage from a pipe that bursts unexpectedly should fall within that category. The repairs of the pipe itself won't be covered, but cleanup of the water-related damage is.

Frozen burst pipes are covered by homeowners insurance

Does homeowners insurance cover plumbing problems when pipes freeze? Damage from frozen burst pipes is usually covered, although the pipe repairs themselves are not. However, there are exceptions when damage isn't paid for. Damage caused by a burst pipe wouldn't be covered if it occurred because a property owner failed to maintain heat in the home.

Broken pipes under slab are covered by homeowners insurance

Does homeowners insurance cover plumbing issues resulting from broken pipes under slab? Yes, in most cases, homeowners insurance policies cover the damage caused by a slab leak. However, the actual repairs to the pipe are not typically paid for. Damage from slab leaks also won't be covered if they occurred due to an excluded cause. For example, damage from a broken pipe under slab caused by tree roots might not be covered.

When is plumbing not covered by homeowners insurance?

Some plumbing problems are excluded from coverage. This can make it confusing to answer the question, "Does homeowners insurance cover plumbing issues?" Review exclusions in your policy carefully. Here are some common plumbing problems that are not usually covered.

Broken sewer pipes are not covered by homeowners insurance

Sewer lines connect the plumbing in a home to the mainline under the street. Many standard homeowners policies exclude sewer line coverage. So the answer to the question, "Does homeowners insurance cover plumbing problems related to broken sewer lines?" is typically no.

Leaking pipes that have been neglected are not covered by homeowners insurance

If homeowners are negligent, this changes the answer to the question, "Does homeowners insurance cover plumbing problems?" If a homeowner ignores a leaky faucet, resulting damage won't be covered. Shoddy repairs, such as patching water lines instead of replacing them, could also result in homeowners insurance denying coverage.

Normal wear and tear isn't covered by homeowners insurance

You might think homeowners insurance and water leaks go hand in hand, but normal wear and tear to the plumbing system isn't covered. This includes leaks and broken pipes. Homeowners are responsible for maintaining their plumbing system, water, heat, and appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers that could potentially leak.

What plumbing costs are covered by homeowners insurance?

Standard home plumbing insurance can provide fairly comprehensive protection for homeowners. Plumbing damages could be covered under:

  • Dwelling coverage: This protects the home's structure and fixtures. If a burst pipe or other plumbing problem damages flooring, ceilings, cabinets, insulation, or other home fixtures, the damage should be covered. Pipe repairs usually aren't.
  • Personal property: If busted pipes result in damage to a homeowner's possessions, plumbing insurance should pay to repair or replace them. This can include damage to furniture or electronics.
  • Other structures: If there are structures on the property that are detached from the home, plumbing insurance can cover them if they're affected by plumbing problems. For example, insurance could pay for repairs if a free-standing garage is damaged by a burst pipe.
  • Loss-of-use: Homeowners who can't use their property due to water damage may incur costs. For example, if a kitchen is destroyed due to busted pipes, the homeowner may need to pay for restaurant meals. Loss-of-use coverage could pay for this.
  • Personal liability: If a plumbing problem damages a neighbor's property, homeowners insurance should cover it.

Some costs, however, are often excluded, like mold damage. And while damage from plumbing-related problems is paid for, repair of the pipes themselves usually isn't. So the answer to "Does homeowners insurance cover plumbing problems?" is that it depends on the situation.

Additional plumbing insurance you may want to consider

While broken pipes insurance coverage is usually sufficient through a standard home insurance policy, some types of damage aren't usually covered, such as:

  • Problems with sewer lines
  • Flooding from rising waters caused by storms or hurricanes
  • Mold damage

To ensure they have enough coverage, homeowners may wish to buy:

How to prevent plumbing leaks and water damage

Homeowners can take steps to prevent plumbing leaks and water damage. If they do, they hopefully won't have to worry about answering the question, "Does homeowners insurance cover plumbing?"

Steps to prevent water damage include:

  • Inspect pipes annually. Whether property owners have cast iron pipes, PVC pipes, galvanized steel pipes, or other alternatives, it's important to make sure pipes are in good condition. Professional plumbers can conduct annual inspections to see if any pipes need replacing.
  • Insulate pipes properly. Proper insulation can prevent a frozen burst pipe and resulting damage.
  • Make repairs in a timely manner. Address leaks and clogged drains quickly to avoid damage.
  • Use a water monitor. Leak detection systems can help identify and stop leaks before they cause serious harm

Filing a plumbing insurance claim

Before filing a plumbing insurance claim, a homeowner should read their policy carefully. The goal is to answer the question, "Does homeowners insurance cover plumbing damage in this situation?" There are also other considerations, including the extent of the damage.

Should you file a claim?

If plumbing damage is covered, it typically makes sense to file a home insurance claim when problems arise. However, homeowners should consider the extent of the damage relative to their deductible (the amount a policyholder has to pay before insurance kicks in).

If $2,000 in damage was done and there's a $1,000 deductible, filing a claim may not be worth it. Homeowners would need to pay the $1,000 deductible out of pocket before insurance pays for the remainder of losses. For a small claim, it may not be worth the premium increase that results when an insurance claim is made.

How to file a claim

Homeowners will need to report plumbing damage to an insurer as soon as possible. The insurance company will provide instructions on the claims filing process. Typically, an adjuster will make an assessment. The adjuster will review the incident to answer the question, "Does homeowners insurance cover plumbing damage in this situation?" The adjuster will also determine the extent of the covered loss.

What to do if your claim is denied

If a claim is denied, policyholders should carefully review their insurance policy to see if the cause of the plumbing damage was excluded. If they believe they should be covered, they can appeal. It may be smart to contact an attorney or the state's Department of Insurance to get support during the appeal process.

FAQs

  • In most cases, standard home insurance policies exclude blocked sewer lines. These are the lines connecting the home to the public sewer system. It may be possible to buy standalone insurance coverage to protect against sewer line problems.

  • Here are a few signs of a broken sewer line:

    • Drains become clogged easily
    • An unpleasant sewage odor in the home
    • Sogginess in the yard

    Homeowners who suspect sewer line damage should contact a plumber right away before a sewage backup or other serious damage occurs.

  • The average cost to repair a main sewer line is $3,818 according to HomeGuide. The average cost to replace one ranges from $8,000 to $30,000. Homeowners can expect to pay between $50 to $200 per linear foot.

  • The average cost to identify and repair a slab leak is $2,280 according to HomeAdvisor.

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