Does Home Insurance Cover Plumbing

Someone fixing a pipe behind a wall

Plumbing issues can cause a wide range of damage to your home, from ruined sheetrock walls to warped floors to flooded basements. All of these fixes are costly. So when does homeowners insurance cover plumbing? Keep reading for a detailed breakdown.

When You’re Covered

Typically, a basic homeowners insurance policy will cover plumbing if the damage is sudden and accidental, rather than gradual. “Sudden and accidental” is a phrase that most insurance carriers use to determine which plumbing claims are covered and which are not.

For example, if a pipe suddenly bursts and drenches your floor, your insurance carrier will probably cover the cost of cleanup and repairs. That’s because you, as the homeowner, had no way of predicting that it would happen. The opposite would be a slow leak that you’re fully aware of, but never get around to fixing.

When You’re Not Covered

Homeowners insurance won’t cover plumbing damage that develops over time due to poor maintenance or neglect. The thinking is that you could have taken steps to prevent the problem from happening in the first place.

Let’s say you’ve had a leaky faucet for a year. Gradually, water from the leak drips down the wall until one day you notice mold and mildew behind the vanity. In this case, your homeowners insurance company could easily deny your claim, arguing that you neglected to fix the leak in a timely manner.

Here are the plumbing claims that your homeowners insurance carrier may deny:

  • Long-term leaks
  • Sump pump backup
  • Flooding
  • Water or sewer backup
  • Older pipes

You can protect yourself against most of these problems by purchasing optional add-on coverages.

Plumbing Damage: Covered vs. Not Covered

Cause of DamageCoveredNot Covered
The overhead water sprinkler in your home suddenly burstsX 
Your pipes freeze and burst because you failed to maintain heat in the home X
The hose leading to your washer machine accidentally breaksX 
Your home’s foundation shifts, slowly pulling apart the pipes beneath your home X
A water pipe bursts, even though your home was heatedX 
An offsite power outage cuts off power to your sump pump, flooding your basement X

Additional Coverage Options

Homeowners insurance policies only cover certain plumbing problems, as described above. The following add-on coverages can help fill those gaps, so you’re well-protected.

Recommended Add-On Coverages
  • Flood Insurance
  • Water or Sewer Backup
  • Sump Pump Backup
  • Mold Coverage
  • Utility Service Line

Flood Insurance

For the most part, standard homeowners insurance covers water damage that is caused by a broken pipe or water leaking through the ceiling. It doesn’t cover damage caused by water coming up from the ground—from a natural source, in other words. This is why you need a separate flood insurance policy.

Flood insurance protects your home and its contents from damage caused by rising water, such as an overflowing lake or river. Therefore, if you live near a large body of water that could potentially overflow, or if your area is prone to heavy rain, flood insurance may be for you.

Water or Sewer Backup

Homeowners insurance usually won’t cover damage to your home caused by sewer, septic tank or drain backups. That’s unfortunate, because these types of backups can cause thousands—even tens of thousands—of dollars of damage to your personal property.

These backups happen due to a variety of reasons, such as clogged drains, aging sewer systems and tree roots getting into underground pipes. You can protect yourself by adding water backup coverage—also known as sewer backup coverage—to your homeowners insurance policy.

Sump Pumps

Many homes have sump pumps that drain standing water out of the basement. When these pumps fail—either from a power outage or a mechanical problem—it usually leads to flooding. Unfortunately, standard homeowners insurance policies won’t cover damage caused by sump pump failure.

To protect yourself, you may want to buy an optional sump pump coverage endorsement. For extra peace of mind, you can also buy a backup generator to keep the sump pump running during a power outage.

Mold Coverage

Mold damage isn’t covered by homeowners insurance because mold grows over time. Usually, it’s the result of a long-term leak or flooding—and not a sudden or accidental event. The good news is that you can add an optional coverage to your policy that will pay to replace items damaged or destroyed by mold.

Utility Service Line

As a homeowner, you’re responsible for the exterior underground pipes and lines that bring critical services into your home from outside the structure. This includes drainage pipes and sewer lines. If these pipes and lines become damaged over time, you’ll be on the hook to replace them—unless you purchase utility service line coverage.

This optional coverage will provide payment if physical damage results in a leak, break, tear, rupture, collapse or arcing of a covered utility service line leading to your home.

How to Prevent Plumbing Damage

Proactive maintenance is always the best defense against plumbing damage. Here are some ways you can protect your home’s plumbing system:

Replace old plumbing
If you live in a very old home, your pipes could start to deteriorate from wear and tear. One way around that scenario is to replace the pipes before they start leaking. Of course, a complete replacement of your plumbing system can be very expensive, so speak with a home inspector first. They’ll give you a professional recommendation you can trust.
Remove intrusive trees
If there are any large trees near your home, you may want to hire a professional to cut them down or prune them. Over time, roots can penetrate your home’s pipework, resulting in costly repairs. The roots might crack the pipe as they grow or block the interior of the pipe, restricting the flow of water.
Insulate your pipes
In cold weather, water pipes can freeze and burst, causing serious damage. Follow these tips to prevent frozen pipes:
  • Insulate plumbing in unheated areas like the attic, basement and crawl spaces
  • Keep your home at a steady temperature during the day and night
  • Let water trickle from your faucets to prevent ice from forming inside the pipe
  • Open cabinet doors in the kitchen and bathroom so warm air can circulate
Check your appliances
It’s a good idea to check your appliances for leaks on a regular basis. This means your washing machine, dishwasher and refrigerator. Here are some tips:
  • Confirm that all water connections are secure and dry
  • Make sure all hoses and water supply lines are clear of debris and operating well
  • If you find water on the floor near an appliance, there could be a leak; call a plumber right away

*Instant quote not available for all applicants. Restrictions apply.

The above content is for general informational purposes only and does not replace or modify any provisions, limitations or exclusions contained in any insurance policy.

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The above content is for general informational purposes only and does not replace or modify any provisions, limitations or exclusions contained in any insurance policy.

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