Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Burst Pipes?
Most homeowners insurance policies cover water damage from burst pipes if the collapse is sudden and unexpected. However, homeowners insurance typically only covers the damage itself, not the source of the damage. For this reason, your policy may only help pay to repair your personal belongings or property and not to replace the pipe itself.
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Understanding Burst Pipes
Burst pipes can cause extensive damage to a property, wreaking havoc on everything from walls to floors. If left unchecked, the water damage from burst pipes can compromise the structural integrity of your home, ruin your personal belongings, and cause mold growth and other issues.
Therefore, it’s crucial to know how to maintain your pipes. It’s also important to understand how your insurance coverage would apply if a pipe bursts.
Why Pipes Burst
Various situations, including those listed below, can cause burst pipes:
- Freezing temperatures: Water expands in freezing temperatures, which can cause significant pressure inside the pipes and result in ruptures.
- Age and deterioration: Pipes can weaken and deteriorate over time if not properly maintained. As the pipes become thinner, one of them could burst open and cause water damage to your home.
- High water pressure: If the water pressure from your supplier to your home is too high, it could cause your pipes to leak and burst.
- Blockages: A buildup of debris or foreign objects that get flushed down the toilet or washed down the drain can block your pipes and cause them to break.
- Excessive heat: Excessive heat can cause metal pipes to expand and shift, leading to leaks or pipe ruptures.
- Tree roots: If there are cracks in your pipes, tree roots will grow toward them since they’re attracted to water. And when a tree root grows through a pipe, it can cause the line to fracture or burst.
- Physical damage: Corrosion, ground movements, and tree roots can all cause physical damage to pipes.
How Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Burst Pipes?
- Dwelling Coverage: Dwelling coverage is one of the main components of your homeowners insurance policy and can help pay for damages to the physical structure of your home. So if a burst pipe damages your floors, ceilings, walls, or other structural components, your dwelling coverage should help shoulder the repair costs. Dwelling coverage will also cover professional cleaning if your carpets are damaged wall to wall.
- Property Coverage: Property coverage helps cover your belongings, like furniture, clothing, and electronics if they’re destroyed, damaged, or stolen due to a covered loss. In the case of water damage from a burst pipe, the property coverage component can help pay for the replacement of your belongings.
- Additional Living Expenses Insurance: Also known as loss of use coverage, additional living expenses insurance helps pay for the extra living costs you may incur if a covered event makes your home uninhabitable. So if you have to temporarily relocate due to water damage caused by your burst pipes, loss of use coverage should pay for the relocation expenses.
Burst Pipe Coverage
Coverage of burst pipes may depend on the cause. Most homeowners insurance policies only cover burst pipes if a sudden, accidental event caused the damage.
For example, policies typically help pay for repairs if a snowstorm hits your town and causes your pipes to burst, even though you’ve taken all the preventative measures. In other words, the burst pipe must happen unexpectedly and not due to neglect or improper maintenance.
On the other hand, if your pipes froze and burst because you turned off the heat before leaving your home, your claim will most likely be denied since the damage was preventable.
What’s Not Covered?
Your policy probably will not pay for damages caused by a burst pipe due to the following:
- Regular wear and tear
- Poor initial installation
- Shifting soil
- Sewer backup
- Encroaching tree roots
- Shifting soil
Remember, every insurance policy is unique and may have different exclusions. Check with your insurer for more details if you’re unsure about what’s covered and what’s not.
Coverage for Water Damage
Water damage, including damage from freezing, is one of the most common types of homeowners insurance claims. Each year, around 1 in 60 insured homes has a property damage claim caused by water damage, with the average claim being approximately $12,514.
While most standard homeowners insurance policies cover sudden and accidental water damage, they will not cover gradual damage, like a leaking bathroom sink. They also will not cover water damage from floods. So, if you live in a flood-prone area, consider investing in flood insurance for extra protection.
How To File a Claim for a Burst Pipe
Dealing with a burst pipe can be stressful and overwhelming. Here’s how to properly file a claim and receive the compensation you need to pay for the repair.
- Document the damage. First, take pictures of the damage caused to your property or personal belongings.
- Check your insurance policy. Read the fine print of your insurance policy to see if your specific situation is covered.
- Contact your insurer. Next, contact your insurance company as soon as possible to initiate the claims process. Most insurers allow you to file a claim by filling out an online form.
- Wait for the insurance adjuster. Once you’ve submitted a claim, your insurance company will send an adjuster to your property to assess the burst pipe damage and determine how much settlement you’ll receive.
Tips for Preventing Burst Pipes
Damage caused by burst pipes can cost you thousands of dollars. Here’s how to protect your pipes and keep them from leaking or bursting.
- Insulate exposed pipes. Wrapping your pipes with fiberglass or foam insulation can protect them from cold weather and prevent ice from forming inside the pipes.
- Let the faucets drip during cold weather. Because moving water does not freeze as easily, opening your faucets and letting water drip slowly is another way to prevent your pipes from bursting.
- Know the warning signs. For example, clanging noises from your walls may indicate that your pipes are loose and shifting due to lack of support. If you notice warning signs like this, contact your plumber immediately to prevent serious issues.
- Scheduling regular maintenance. Scheduling regular maintenance on your home’s piping system is one of the simplest ways to reduce the likelihood of costly damages.
Putting It All Together
Proactively maintaining your pipes and learning about your homeowners insurance policy can save you headaches and thousands of dollars in repair costs.
If you have not already, review your homeowners insurance policy to understand what is and is not covered regarding water damage and burst pipes. Consult your insurance agent to see if you need separate insurance policies or add-ons to supplement your existing coverage.