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Written by Andy Gurczak

July 30, 2021

Plumbing Leaks: Does Home Insurance Cover Them?

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Plumbing Leaks?

Water damage can cause enough damage that you’d need to repair part of your home’s structure. As well as replace destroyed property and maybe even relocate from your house for a while. So does homeowners insurance cover plumbing leaks? Standard homeowner insurance generally covers any sudden and accidental water damage resulting from a plumbing failure. Such as a burst pipe or ruptured water heater. However, if your insurance covers your damage highly depends on the circumstances of your particular case. Therefore, there are different clauses in your standard homeowners insurance policy that may provide coverage for water damage:

Plumbing Leaks Insurance Burst Pipe

First, dwelling coverage

A standard policy’s dwelling coverage clause insures the structure of your home. Such as its roof, walls and floorboards. So if any of these suffer damage, then your dwelling coverage will reimburse you for it. Furthermore, dwelling insurance also covers your home’s built-in appliances, such as a water heater.

Second, property coverage

Standard homeowners insurance property coverage usually covers personal property damaged by a plumbing malfunction. Including clothing, technology and furniture. However, certain luxury items, such as jewelry or furs, may have a coverage limit averaging on 1,500. Of course, this is unless you add an optional rider to your policy.

Third, “Additional Living Expenses” (ALE) coverage

Also referred to as Loss of Use clause. This section of your policy will reimburse you for hotel, rent, travel and food expenses if you’re temporarily displaced from your home.

Nevertheless, there’s a difference between slow plumbing leaks and a burst pipe and it affects your coverage

As mentioned before, water damage may be covered under homeowners’ insurance, but it depends largely on the nature of the mishap. For example, if the damage occurs as a result of something sudden or unforeseen such as a burst pipe or a malfunctioning washing machine, standard homeowners policy usually covers it.

However, if the damage happens over a long period of time, your insurance company may deny you coverage. For instance, if a leaky pipe that you ignored causes your home’s foundation to crack, then you are probably on your own. All insurance policies exclude problems due to wear and tear as well as gradual damage. However, there may be some exceptions.

Reasons why your home insurance might deny you plumbing leaks coverage

Meanwhile covered water damage does include plumbing leaks and burst pipes, it’s important to understand that certain situations or types of damage aren’t covered. When you file a water damage claim, your insurance company will send over an insurance adjuster to assess the cause of damage, determine if you are covered, and estimate repair cost. They will evaluate:

  • First, the location of the pipes
  • Second, other sources of damage
  • If any of the damage is from an old leak or a new one
  • And whether there are any signs of deterioration that should have signaled a future leak. As well as whether the leak is simply the result of old age or wear and tear

The adjuster will use these evaluations to determine if you could have reasonably prevented the leak. Consequently, if they determine that you could have, they may deny coverage.

Lack of maintenance or negligence causing a plumbing leaks

Like we said above, water damage that results from normal wear and tear or a lack of maintenance will not be covered.

Sewage backup

Meanwhile a leaking toilet may be covered by your homeowners insurance policy, a flooded or backed up sewage system is not. In fact, most home insurance companies offer sewer or water backup coverage as an additional and affordable rider.

Flood damage is definitely not the same as plumbing leaks

Flood damage usually occurs when heavy rains, an overflowing body of water, or snow melt overloads your plumbing system. Indeed, this type of damage is most definitely not covered by your standard homeowner’s insurance policy. But in fact, flood insurance is its own separate policy with its own different premium cost.

Mold damage caused by plumbing leaks

Generally, standard homeowners policies exclude mold damage. However, insurance companies do provide a varying amount of protection against mold damage if it results from a covered leak. For this reason, you should consult your insurance agent if your policy seems unclear about mold remediation.

With this in mind, you should also be aware that insurers do offer additional mold coverage in the form of an optional rider. Furthermore, in addition to purchasing mold coverage, you can prevent mold damage by regularly cleaning, ventilating or dehumidifying prone areas. Such as basements, bathrooms, laundry rooms, cabinetry beneath sinks, garages, and crawl spaces.

Plumbing Leaks Insurance Mold Damage

What Does Homeowner Insurance Cover Relating to Water Damage and Plumbing Leaks?

Ensuing loss and water damage are covered

There are two types of plumbing systems that most homes in the US have: first, supply plumbing and second, sanitary plumbing. Supply plumbing includes pressurized pipes that carry water into your home and to your fixtures and appliances. Meanwhile, sanitary plumbing, or “waste lines” carry used water to your septic tank or sewer. Used water such as water from your toilets, showers, bath tubs, sinks, washing machines and dishwashers. So, if water accidentally escapes from either of these plumbing systems, subsequently all damage that’s caused by the water is covered by your standard homeowners insurance.

Access for plumbing leaks repair is covered

In addition to the water damage, your homeowners insurance policy usually covers access to the broken plumbing to allow for repair. In fact, plumbing access can easily be the most expensive portion of a claim. For example, if a supply pipe bursts inside a wall, the water cleanup and repair of water damage may be minimal. However, in order to get to the leaking pipe to repair it, you may have to demolish the said wall and this specifically, might be expensive.

How To Avoid Having A Water Damage or Plumbing leaks Claim Denied

First, taking preventive measures is always a good place to start. Since not only does it avoid damages at all, but it’s also the best way to prove your damages aren’t because of negligence. Therefore, have your plumbing inspected by a licensed professional on a regular basis, and maintain records of repairs. As well as the professionals you have hired over the years to do inspections and maintenance.

Furthermore, be sure to leave your home’s heat on during the winter, especially if you are leaving for an extended period of time. Moreover, every home should have a water shutoff valve regardless of the climate. With this in mind, learn where this valve is located, and make sure it is operable in case you specifically need to turn off the water quickly.

Equally important, if not more so, don’t make fraudulent claims or deceptive and untruthful allegations. Last but certainly not least, document damages properly and file claims on time.

Plumbing Leaks Insurance Claim Denied

What To Do If Your Plumbing Leaks Claim Is Denied

In conclusion, if you were denied coverage that you think should have applied to the damage caused by a leaky pipe, you might consider getting a second opinion. For instance, you could consult a licensed professional, such as a public adjuster to manage your claim. Or you call a consumer advocacy organization that is specifically familiar with insurance in your region. Moreover, your insurance company may also have an ombudsmen that can help review your file. Last, but certainly not least, you can also contact your state insurance commissioner for guidance or to file a complaint.

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