Homeowners insurance covers the policyholder from several damages, such as ones caused due to fire, lightning, winds, hailstorms, and burglary, among others. Expenses incurred in repairing or replacing the items that were affected during the above-mentioned situations are generally covered by homeowners insurance.
In some cases, homeowners insurance also covers the damages accidentally caused by you on someone else’s property or if a visitor is injured on your property. Given the vast scope of homeowners insurance, damage due to plumbing is also covered, depending on the situation.
So the answer is yes, homeowners insurance does cover plumbing. However, it doesn’t cover plumbing incidents in all situations. Understanding when home insurance does and doesn’t cover plumbing is important. Essentially, whether your claim is accepted or denied is based on whether the damage caused by plumbing was sudden and accidental, or if it was a gradual occurrence.
Water pipelines in homes run like a network of veins on the other side of the wall, and as a result, any kind of plumbing issue that may have arisen might stay hidden for a long time. While a sudden burst in a pipe might seem like an accidental occurrence, if the insurance inspector while examining the damage finds out that the damage was due to negligence, use of low-quality pipes, or old and corroded pipes, the homeowners insurance company might end up denying your policy claim.
Plumbing issues that are covered by homeowners insurance
Your homeowners insurance policy will typically contain a few clauses that make you eligible to receive coverage for different cases of accidental water damage in your home. Here’s a look at a few of them:
Dwelling coverage – This clause may cover you for accidental breakage and issues related to pipes, ceiling repairs, water heaters, and other structural damage that might be caused by built-in appliances and faulty plumbing.
Personal property coverage – This covers your personal belongings that might have been damaged due to the water heater bursting or from a pipe spillage.
Loss-of-use coverage – This clause covers additional expenses you incur when you’re forced to relocate until your home is inhabitable again. This may include additional lodging expenses or food expenses may not have incurred otherwise.
Other structures coverage – The structures built around your home, such as a backyard workshop or a guesthouse, are covered from damages caused by water bursts under the other structures coverage.
Personal liability – In the event a plumbing accident damages a neighbor’s property and you’re held liable for the repairs, this coverage would cover those expenses.
The following is a list of plumbing issues that homeowners insurance would likely cover:
- The water pipes burst all of a sudden
- Your plumber repairs old plumbing incorrectly
- Your plumber installs new plumbing incorrectly
- Your neighbor’s faulty plumbing causes damage to your property
Types of plumbing damage not covered by homeowners insurance
As mentioned earlier, plumbing issues that began and grew gradually and could have been stopped with proper maintenance and checks are excluded from homeowners insurance coverage. So, although you may have been unaware of a plumbing issue gathering momentum, home insurance companies might see it as a matter of negligence that could have been managed and corrected before. Because prevention is always better than repairs, here’s a checklist of a few things you should keep in mind:
- Periodically check your home’s plumbing for signs of corrosion, wear and tear or rust.
- Ensure you shut off your water supply in seasonal homes during winters to avoid the pipes from freezing and bursting.
- Replace/avoid polybutylene plumbing as they are known to be notoriously faulty and prone to breakage when exposed to chemicals in water, such as chlorine in public water.
- Change old pipes that have caught rust or suffered severe corrosion.
- Keep checking your sump pump to ensure it is running properly, and empty the sump water regularly.
Investing in additional plumbing coverage
Although homeowners insurance is pretty inclusive when it comes to covering damages due to plumbing issues, you may want to consider additional coverages or riders depending on your unique situation.
The best way to ascertain what kind of additional insurance you may require is by the location of your house. For example, the coverage you need may depend on whether you live in a flood-prone area or one that suffers from sewage overflows. For the latter, you can get a sewer back-up rider, which protects you from damages caused by the water from the sewage overflowing or entering your home and thus damaging property. The sewer backup rider coverage reimburses you for repairs made to the sewer lateral and to repair and replace the property lost due to damage.
Flood insurance covers your home and property damage caused by weather-related flooding. If the plumbing at your home bursts or suffers damage due to the flooding, flood insurance may cover it.
While homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for some water damage, but they don’t provide coverage for any mold that grows due to the pipe leakage. A mold damage rider covers the expenses you incur to treat and get rid of mold that may have formed due to the plumbing accident.
Finally, a sump pump rider covers your expenses of repairing or replacing a sump pump that might suffer leakage or breakage, thus not being able to pump out the groundwater accumulated in the sump pit. Because standard provisions don’t cover sump pump issues, additional coverage is a good idea.
While homeowners insurance does cover plumbing issues, it’s important to realize that you’re only covered if the plumbing accident is a sudden one and not one that had been building up over time. If you’re buying a new home, check the pipes to ensure they’re not polybutylene ones as the insurer will take a note of it and specifically leave out pipe repair and residual damage clauses in your policy. If you’re buying an old house or are living in one, you may want to consider updating the plumbing to avoid a potential incident.
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