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Maintaining a home is difficult enough without having to worry about costly repairs and damages. While taking out a homeowners insurance policy will help to alleviate some of that risk, your policy may not cover certain perils (events that result in damage).
Luckily, standard homeowners policies typically cover water damage from burst pipes.
Here’s what you need to know about home insurance and burst pipes:
- Does home insurance cover burst pipes?
- When does home insurance not cover damage from burst pipes?
- Other water damage coverage options
- How to file a claim for burst pipes
- What to do if your burst pipe claim is denied
Does home insurance cover burst pipes?
In general, standard homeowners insurance policies cover water damage from burst pipes, assuming the mishap was a result of a sudden and accidental event.
If your pipes burst, three types of coverage in your home insurance policy may apply:
- Dwelling coverage: This type of coverage is the main part of your homeowners policy and helps pay for repairs or replacement to the physical structure of the home. For instance, if your pipes burst and caused damage to the floors and walls, your insurance provider may pay to have these areas repaired.
- Property coverage: Your belongings, like furniture and electronics, are covered under your policy’s personal property coverage in the event a qualifying peril occurs. Say a pipe accidentally bursts and damages your personal belongings. With personal property coverage, your insurer may cover them at actual cash value or full replacement cost, depending on your policy.
- Loss of use: Sometimes referred to as additional living expenses, loss of use coverage helps pay for living expenses if you’re unable to live in your home following a covered event. If a burst pipe leaves your home temporarily uninhabitable, your insurance carrier helps pay for a hotel and other living expenses while your home is being repaired.
Look at your policy’s declaration page to find out what type of coverages your policy includes. You may also want to set up some time to talk to your insurer and clarify what scenarios your home insurance covers before any damaging events occur.
Check Out: What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?
Plumbing damage coverage limits
Reimbursement limits for burst pipes will differ depending on your homeowners insurance policy and the type of damage caused to your home or belongings.
When you purchase your policy, you’ll choose a dwelling coverage limit. It’s a good idea to choose a dwelling coverage limit high enough to cover the full replacement cost of your home. This’ll help protect you should an event, like burst pipes, cause significant damage to the structure of your home.
Coverages for personal property and loss of use are based on a percentage of your dwelling limit. Personal property coverage is typically 50% to 70% of your dwelling limit; loss of use coverage is usually around 20%. So, if your dwelling coverage limit is $200,000, and your personal property coverage is limited to 50% of that amount, your personal property limit would be $100,000.
Learn More: How Much Homeowners Insurance Do I Need?
When does home insurance not cover damage from burst pipes?
Your home insurance policy won’t cover every instance of burst pipe damage. Here are a few specific scenarios when home insurance won’t cover damage from burst pipes:
- Negligence: Home insurance providers view plumbing as the homeowner’s responsibility. If you neglect to take care of small issues like leaks, fractures, or other tasks to maintain your pipes and they end up bursting, your policy won’t cover the damages.
- Repairs exceed coverage limits: Your home insurance policy only goes up to a certain limit. You’ll need to pay out of pocket for any damages over that amount.
- Regular wear and tear: Older homes may have worn-out pipes that need to be replaced. Failing to replace an old plumbing system could lead to burst pipes, and your insurance carrier won’t pay for these damages.
Other water damage coverage options
Certain events not covered by standard home insurance policies may cause damage to your plumbing and potentially result in burst pipes. Consider adding these separate coverages to protect yourself from any water damage that might occur:
- Flooding: Most insurance companies don’t cover flooding. That means any damage that occurs from burst pipes as a result of flooding won’t be covered under your standard homeowners policy. If you live in an area susceptible to floods, you can purchase a separate policy through the National Flood Insurance Program or a private insurer.
- Sewer or drain backups: If you experience a large number of rainstorms or are worried about backups causing damage to your pipes, most insurers offer additional coverage (also called endorsements or riders) for these perils.
- Sump pump damage: You may be able to purchase a rider to protect your home from pipe damage caused by a sump pump overflow.
- Windstorm and hail: If you live in a coastal area, you may not have this type of coverage, even though it’s standard in most home insurance policies. To protect your pipes from damage caused by wind or hail, you’ll need to purchase a separate policy.
How to file a claim for burst pipes
The insurance claim process can differ from provider to provider, but in general, you’ll need to take the following steps to file a claim for burst pipes:
- Take photos and prepare documentation. Provide the right kinds of documentation to your carrier to ensure your home insurance claims are processed as quickly as possible.
- Contact your insurance provider. Depending on your insurer’s policy, you may have to call or fill out an online form detailing the claim you want to make. Reporting requirements tend to differ depending on the insurance provider you have. Read through the forms carefully so you know exactly what you need to do.
- Make any emergency repairs. Protect your property from further damage by making temporary repairs. Be sure to save the receipts for any out-of-pocket expenses; you can submit them to your insurer later for reimbursement. However, don’t perform any extensive repairs until you’ve met with the insurance adjuster.
- Coordinate repairs with a claims representative. Once you’ve submitted a claim, your insurance provider will send an adjuster to assess the property damage. After the adjuster submits their report, you may receive a settlement (reimbursement) from your insurer to pay for the repairs.
What to do if your burst pipe claim is denied
If your insurance claim is denied, you can take the following steps:
- Review your denial letter and file an appeal. See whether your insurer’s reasons are based on inaccurate information. If so, provide additional documentation and evidence that supports your case and file an appeal. Remember that you only have a limited amount of time to appeal the decision.
- Get a second opinion. Ask your insurance carrier for a reinspection and have them send a different person to assess the damage.
- Consider filing a complaint. If you think your claim was denied unfairly, you can file a complaint with your state’s insurance commissioner.
Keep Reading: Does Home Insurance Cover Natural Disasters?