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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Broken Pipes?

By Jarrod Heil

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While damage to your home’s pipes that was incurred suddenly and unexpectedly is likely covered by your homeowners insurance policy, gradual damage that occurred over time will most certainly not be covered. If you are covered, homeowners insurance may pay to repair the broken pipe as well as repair or replace anything that was damaged by water coming from the broken pipe.

But coverage for broken pipes hinges on how those pipes were broken in the first place. Since pipes pretty much make your home go around by facilitating water flow throughout it, one broken pipe can cause a serious headache — and expensive damage.

Let’s dive into everything you need to know about coverage for broken pipes so you’re not left high and dry swimming through confusion after filing a claim.

When Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Broken Pipes?

There are typically two types of damage scenarios that home insurance companies go by: gradual, meaning the damage occurred over time and could’ve been prevented, or sudden and unexpected, meaning the homeowner didn’t really stand a chance at preventing any of the damage that occurred.

Gradual Damage

When it comes to broken pipes, unfortunately, gradual damage is usually the main culprit. That’s because pipes are difficult to keep up with regularly since they’re inside the walls and under the floors of your home. They’re out of sight and out of mind for many homeowners.

So any plumbing issues you have with those pipes may be tough to spot unless you hire a professional to make sure your pipes are in good standing — which you should be doing at least once a year.

Gradual damage to your pipes could be anything from normal wear and tear from age and use, clogging them because you’re putting unnecessary things down the drain or, for those people living in a cold-weather climate, frozen pipes that expand and break in some circumstances.

Even though the latter incident of pipes freezing can be considered sudden and unexpected, if you don’t properly heat your home or insulate your pipes before freezing weather takes hold, you could be at-fault for the damage due to negligence. Unfortunately, all of these instances of gradual damage would not be covered by your homeowners policy.

Sudden & Unexpected Damage

If you take care of your pipes, have them properly inspected and do your part in maintaining them, you shouldn’t have any issues with gradual damage. But sudden and unexpected damage is another story. Life happens and things tend to break or go wrong at the most inopportune times. But that’s why you have homeowners insurance in the first place — to take the burden and cost off of your shoulders.

If your washing machine or dishwasher suddenly starts fighting back, causing a broken pipe, your homeowners insurance will likely step in and cover the damage because it was sudden, unexpected and not due to user error.

But sudden and unexpected damage due to the sewer lines or flooding wouldn’t be covered. To get coverage, you’d have to add a sewer backup rider to your policy and purchase a separate flood insurance policy.

Dwelling Coverage

While a typical homeowners insurance policy excludes coverage to repair the broken pipe itself, it does protect other parts of your home that sustained water damage due to the broken pipe.

Those areas of coverage could apply to the drywall in your home that is now discolored and weak from water damage, waterlogged carpets and flooring and many other things included in your policy’s dwelling coverage.

Personal Property Coverage

If the water damage from that broken pipe wasn’t just contained to the walls and floors, don’t worry! The personal property portion of your policy should help reimburse you for any belongings that were damaged, such as furniture, electronics and clothing.

Your protection falls under either actual cash value coverage, which takes depreciation into account before reimbursing you for your belongings, or replacement cost coverage, which reimburses you for the amount you paid for that item — no matter how long ago you bought it.

Loss of Use Coverage

Loss of use coverage is arguably one of the most underrated portions of your homeowners insurance policy. If a broken pipe causes an extreme amount of damage and you’re forced to temporarily move out of your home while it’s being repaired, this protection will reimburse you for many additional living expenses you wouldn’t have otherwise incurred.

These expenses are finding a home or hotel of equivalence from the one you were forced to leave, extra gas money and tolls from a longer commute and even food due to not being able to cook at home anymore.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Pipe Replacement?

Unfortunately, homeowners insurance typically excludes coverage for pipe replacement and will only cover water damage that was caused by the broken pipe and any additional living expenses you incur if you must move out of your home while it’s being repaired.

How to Prevent Broken Pipes in Your Home

The best way to prevent broken pipes in your home is to get a professional to regularly inspect them at least once a year and make sure you’re not putting anything down your drains that shouldn’t be there.

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