Got Plumbing Problems? Here's What Plumbing Issues Homeowners Insurance Covers ... and What It Doesn't
When you own a home, you’re responsible for maintaining the entire property and all the systems that keep your home up and running — including your plumbing.
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Many homeowners believe that the home insurance they have is enough to cover these systems, but that’s not always the case. Each homeowners insurance policy is different. Here’s a detailed look at what plumbing issues you may have to pay for out of pocket.
What’s Homeowners Insurance?
Homeowners insurance is a kind of property insurance that's designed to cover accidental damage and losses to a person's residence. These losses can extend to furnishings and other belongings that can be found in the home. Each insurance company offers different home insurance policies. The components of your home that are covered by home insurance depend on where you live, which policies the company provides and the availability of additional coverage.
Along with providing coverage for both exterior and interior damage, home insurance policies also provide some coverage for injuries that might occur on the property in question. Keep in mind that each policy will have a set liability limit, which refers to the total coverage that's provided in the event that the home is damaged. Often, it’s possible to pay more for a higher liability limit. Every insurance policy will also come with a deductible, which is the amount that you will need to pay before insurance kicks in. Higher deductibles typically lead to lower monthly premiums.
Before a bank or similar mortgage lender approves a loan, you will need to purchase homeowners insurance. Without this insurance, you won't be able to obtain a loan.
What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?
Homeowners insurance covers the cost of damage that occurs to your home, the personal property inside your home and any other structures that are situated on your property. If someone is injured while on your property, your home insurance policy will provide coverage. The policy kicks in when components of your home are damaged by lightning strikes, hail, fires or heavy wind, or if your house is broken into. In most cases, damage caused by floods and earthquakes won't be covered. Depending on where you live, you may be able to purchase flood and earthquake insurance separately.
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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Plumbing Problems?
According to Farmers Insurance, most home insurance policies don’t cover plumbing issues that arise from general wear and tear or lack of maintenance. As mentioned, home insurance is meant to cover those sudden and unavoidable things like fires or lightning strikes — not drain repairs and fixture replacements.
For example, pouring grease and oil down your drain can clog your pipes, causing all sorts of issues. However, your insurance policy is no help to you when it comes to repairs. You’re the one who dumped the grease, after all. If you’re hard on your plumbing system, there are consequences: You’re responsible for the repair costs.
The same goes for neglecting maintenance, tune-ups and backup options. Bob Vila states that if your sump pump fails to keep water from rising in your basement, you may be responsible for those repairs.
Some policies do provide coverage for water damage caused by “accidental events.” This may include frozen pipes that burst, or even children overflowing a bathtub. These are accidental situations that have nothing to do with how well you maintain your plumbing system. But if they’re not exactly accidents — if you neglect to take precautions to prevent frozen pipes, for instance — your claim may be denied.
According to Progressive, your policy may cover replacements for whatever the water damaged, like carpeting, furniture and appliances. You may also be reimbursed for mold and mildew remediation after the fact.
Keep in mind that flood damage usually falls into a different category. While your policy might cover the cleanup associated with a burst pipe, it probably won’t cover damage from floods that originate from an outside source (like excessive rain). That’s the domain of flood insurance.
Know What Your Policy Covers — Before Disaster Strikes
Before you experience a major plumbing issue, give your insurance agent a call and ask them to review the specifics of your policy with you. Ask about:
This part of your policy pays to repair water damage to your house in the event of an accidental plumbing problem. This includes parts of your home (like flooring and walls), as well as your home’s structure.
Personal Property Coverage
This part of your policy covers items that are damaged in a sudden plumbing disaster. Things like furniture and electronics are considered personal property. Be sure to ask your insurance agent whether you’d be reimbursed for the actual cash value of the items or the replacement cost. Actualcashvaluetakesintoaccounthowmuchyouritemsareworthafterdepreciation,while* replacement cost* is how much it would cost to replace the item with a new one.
Homeowners insurance doesn’t usually cover water damage caused by flooding. Ask your insurance agent if you can get additional coverage for weather-related flooding.
You may be able to get additional coverage — for an additional fee. Add-ons supplement your main homeowners insurance policy, and they may be worth the peace of mind if you’re concerned about plumbing issues. Policy Genius lists these as some common plumbing add-on options:
- Backup coverage: This covers the cost of repairing damage if your sewer line or sump pump backs up into your home.
- Service line coverage: This covers damage to the pipes outside your home, like your water service line, sewer line or drains.
- Mold damage coverage: This increases the amount your insurance company will pay for mold and mildew remediation in the case of a sudden plumbing issue.