Imagine a pipe bursts and water spreads throughout your home, damaging everything in its path. Your insurance would pay for repairs and loss of use while renovations are underway. There is one caveat, though: The cause of the break has to be accidental. Insurance will not cover damage caused by a leaky pipe bursting or outdated plumbing.
When are plumbing leaks covered?
Insurance pays for damages that result from accidents, not preventable situations. By definition, a standard homeowners policy doesn’t cover wear and tear. A pipe that bursts because it is too old or in bad shape could have been updated or repaired.
An insurance adjuster’s job is to evaluate the damages to your property and confirm the cause of the accident. As long as your plumbing is in good condition, you’ll be covered.
If you’re not sure, find out how old your plumbing is. Inspect your pipes and look for signs of wear and tear such as corrosion, rust, moisture or mold. If you can’t get a good look or aren’t sure what to look for, ask a plumber for a complete appraisal.
Sometimes, you’re not liable for the damage. What if your neighbor’s pipe burst and damaged your property? Or your plumber made a critical mistake that caused the pipe to burst?
In both of these situations, the other person’s liability coverage will pay for the damages to your building and personal property. Your neighbor is covered on their homeowners policy; the plumber is covered on their contractor insurance.
Sewer backups and sump pump failures are excluded
Losses are not covered if the water damage was caused by a:
- Breakage or overflow of the sewer line
- Sump pump failure or overflow
Backed-up sewers and sump pumps are not traditionally covered on home insurance policies. Water damage caused by these events will only be covered if you’ve purchased endorsements.
Both coverages can be easily added to your existing policy for a few dollars. This is something to consider if you live in an area prone to groundwater accumulation or sewer overflows. Call your Rathbun Insurance account manager to add these riders to your insurance policy.
What damages are covered?
In the event of a claim, the insurer will repair and replace the following damaged property:
- Dwelling: Faulty plumbing and damaged walls, floors, ceilings, systems (electrical, HVAC, etc.) and embedded appliances
- Personal property: soiled items at their actual cash value or replacement cost, depending on your coverage
- Other structures: detached structures affected by the water, including sheds and garages
The insurer will assess the cost of repairs and settle the claim up to the insurance limit available on each coverage. Coverage limits for personal property and other structures are usually set as a percentage of the building’s total value. For a $180,000 home, you might have $54,000 available for property damage and $18,000 for other structures. You will have to bear the cost of your deductible, though only once per claim.
If you must vacate the premises for a long time, make sure there is an allowance to pay for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses such as transportation, lodging and food.
Fixing the damage done to your property and belongings can be expensive, challenging and stressful. Thankfully, with the right coverage and a well-maintained home, you can rest assured that the inconvenience caused by such an event will be minimal and your finances won’t be impacted.
Call your Rathbun Insurance account manager for questions about water damage coverage or insurance endorsements.