Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Plumbing?
If you’re like most homeowners, you probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about your home’s plumbing system — that is, until something goes wrong.
A leaking pipe. A clogged drain. A toilet that doesn’t flush. A backed-up sewer line. These are the kinds of problems that can grind your household to a sudden, screeching stop. And depending on the issue, fixing them could cost anywhere from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars.
Wouldn’t it be nice if these costly repairs were covered by your homeowners insurance policy?
The good news is that, sometimes, they are! In certain situations, homeowners insurance covers plumbing issues. Whether or not you’re covered will depend largely on the type of policy you carry, the type of plumbing issue you are experiencing, and the cause of that issue.
Below, we take a closer look at situations where homeowners insurance might help you shoulder the bill, where it most likely won’t, and offer some advice you can use to reduce the risk of plumbing issues to begin with.
Does homeowners insurance cover plumbing issues?
As is often the case when it comes to insurance: It depends. Sometimes plumbing issues will be covered by your policy; other times they won’t. The best way to know whether or not you’re covered is to carefully read your policy and discuss any questions with your carrier.
As a rule of thumb, however, in order for your homeowners insurance to cover a plumbing-related issue, it will need to meet these requirements:
It’s sudden and unexpected
In most cases, homeowners insurance will cover damage related to your plumbing so long as the damage was “sudden and unexpected.”
If a pipe in your home suddenly freezes and bursts, for example — discharging water that damages your walls, floors, and carpet — your homeowners insurance policy will most likely cover repairs and cleaning. But if a pipe in your home has been slowly leaking for months or years, leading to rotting wood or mold damage, it’s most likely not covered, because it wasn’t caused by a single, sudden event.
It’s not caused by an exclusion
Most homeowners insurance policies outline a number of exclusions, which are essentially types of events that the policy does not provide coverage against.
If the plumbing issues are caused by an exclusion, then your policy will most likely not provide coverage. Examples may include damage to your pipes or sewage system caused by flooding or earthquake damage, both of which are typically excluded from standard homeowners insurance policies.
If your plumbing system is damaged during a fire, for example, then repairs will most likely be covered, as fires are a covered event in most standard homeowners insurance policies. But if you experience flooding that shifts your home’s foundation, disconnecting or damaging pipes underground, that will typically not be covered.
Of course, it’s often possible to add a rider or endorsement to your policy, which can provide coverage specifically against one or more exclusions. Flood insurance and earthquake insurance are two common insurance riders you may consider.
If you’re thinking about purchasing a rider, be sure to start by talking with your existing carrier. Many insurance carriers offer discounts when you bundle policies, which can help you save compared to going with a different carrier for your rider.
The issue is on your property
Some plumbing issues that affect your home may not actually be caused by an issue on your property. In these cases, your homeowners insurance (and any applicable riders) will most likely not cover the issue.
As one example, imagine that you go down into your basement and discover that you’ve had a sewage backup. In normal circumstances, this wouldn’t be covered by your standard homeowners insurance policy — but you’ve thought ahead, and added a rider specifically to provide coverage against water and sewage backups. That means you’re covered, right?
Unfortunately, it isn’t so clear cut. Whether or not you are covered will depend on where the issue originates. If the sewage backup was triggered by an issue with your pipes or sewage system, then yes, it will most likely be covered. If the backup was triggered by an issue with the public sewage system, then it usually isn’t covered.
Plumbing issues usually not covered by homeowners insurance
With all of the above in mind, below is a quick list of plumbing issues that will not typically be covered by your homeowners insurance policy:
Plumbing issues caused by age or general wear and tear
As your plumbing system ages, it’s natural for your pipes to experience a certain amount of wear and tear in the form of corrosion, rust, buildup, or the occasional leak. Unfortunately, these issues are not typically covered by homeowners insurance. Just like other parts of your home, you are responsible for maintaining your plumbing system.
Plumbing issues caused by negligence
If your actions were the direct cause of the plumbing issue, it may or may not be covered, depending on the specifics in your policy. A frozen pipe, for example, will in many cases be covered by your policy. But if it was triggered because you turned off your heat for a week in the middle of winter when you went on vacation, it may not be covered.
Plumbing issues caused by improper installation
If the issue originates from the improper installation of pipes or appliances, your policy will most likely not provide coverage. Examples may include a hot water heater or washing machine that was not installed properly, which led to a sudden discharge that damages your home. The good news is that if the installation was done by a professional, they should have insurance that would cover the event.
Water or sewage backup
As mentioned above, water and sewage backups are typically excluded from your policy, unless you add a rider that specifically provides coverage.
Reduce the risk of plumbing issues
If you’re worried about how you’ll afford to repair a plumbing issue if one springs up, the good news is that there are steps you can take to help avoid them from happening. Some great ideas include:
- Remembering to turn off outdoor faucets in the winter to avoid burst pipes
- Insulating interior pipes as much as possible to keep them from freezing
- Ensuring any appliances that use water are installed properly (and by a professional with adequate insurance)
- Placing water monitors on the pipes throughout your home, which can help detect small leaks before they become bigger issues
- Conducting an annual or seasonal “walk through” where you or a plumber inspects any accessible pipes for signs of leakage, corrosion, or damage
While homeowners insurance won’t always cover the cost of repairing a plumbing issue, having the right amount and types of coverage is an essential part of protecting your home and finances. At Matic, we’re all about making things easy. Get personalized quotes in a matter of seconds to begin saving now.