Does homeowners insurance cover plumbing?

Homeowners insurance typically covers losses resulting from a sudden malfunction, such as a pipe bursting unexpectedly. However, a homeowners policy won't cover slow, constant leaks or other plumbing problems resulting from neglect or improper maintenance. This also applies to backed-up sump pumps or sewage systems that have not been routinely inspected and maintained.

5 min to read

What are the most common plumbing issues and are they covered by homeowners insurance?

At some point, a minor or major plumbing hassle will affect virtually every homeowner. Here are some of the most common problems:

  • Dripping showerhead or faucet
  • Clogged or slow drain
  • Clogged or running toilet
  • Low water pressure
  • Leaky or busted pipe
  • Sewer back-up
  • Sump pump overflow

Issues such as a drip, clogged drain, or running toilet are often inexpensive DIY fixes, but a busted pipe may cause significant water damage to your home. Homeowners insurance may cover sudden damage due to a burst pipe or leaking pipe, assuming the failure was unexpected, and pay to repair or replace damaged items. This can include walls, floors, carpeting, furnishings, and electronic equipment. Your homeowners policy may also cover mold and mildew cleanup in this scenario, as well.

Standard homeowners policies typically won’t cover blocked pipes from tree roots or any type of sewage backup. However, many insurers, including Progressive, offer an endorsement to your policy that may cover sewer line damage. The same holds true for damage caused by a sump pump overflow—while standard policies typically won’t cover it, you can purchase optional water back-up and sump pump coverage.

Will homeowners insurance cover appliance leaks or overflows?

A dishwasher, water heater, or any other leaky appliance typically won’t be covered by standard homeowners insurance if the leak was caused by normal wear and tear or lack of maintenance. However, if the appliance suddenly malfunctions, then your homeowners policy may pay for the water damage to your property, such as the surrounding floors and cabinets, up to your coverage limit and minus your deductible. The actual appliance typically wouldn’t be covered unless you purchase optional coverage for electrical and mechanical breakdown.

Learn more about how homeowners insurance covers appliances.

What if the plumbing damage was caused by a neighbor or contractor?

If the plumbing damage is caused by someone else — such as a neighbor's plumbing spilling onto your property or a contractor causing damage by incorrectly installing a washing machine — their insurance may be responsible for covering the cost of repairs. However, depending on your insurer, you may have to initially front the cost out of pocket until the claims process is completed. You may then be reimbursed by the neighbor's personal liability coverage or the contractor's insurance.

Does homeowners insurance cover slab/foundation leaks?

If the slab leak resulted from a pipe that suddenly burst, homeowners insurance may pay for the removal and replacement of the slab. Foundation leaks caused by a flood generally won’t be covered by a standard homeowners policy.

Read more about foundation repairs and homeowners insurance and how a standard homeowners policy can cover basement flooding.

When is damage from plumbing not covered by homeowners insurance?

Wear and tear: As a homeowner, you're responsible for everyday wear and tear on your pipes. If you suffer catastrophic damage due to improper maintenance, such as failing to fix a pipe you know is leaking, your insurer could deny your claim.

Negligence: Suppose you leave for a vacation during a cold spell and shut off your heat. If a pipe freezes and bursts while you're away, your insurer could declare this to be a negligent act and deny your claim. Frozen pipes are a common occurrence, but you must prove you've taken steps to prevent the pipes from freezing and bursting.

Flooding: Heavy rain and flood water can cause damage to your home’s plumbing systems. Homeowners policies typically won’t cover damage from a flood, but you may purchase separate flood insurance if you reside in an area at risk for flooding.

How does home insurance cover plumbing damage?

Plumbing damage and related expenses may be covered under the following homeowners insurance coverages, up to the limits of your policy:

  • Dwelling coverage protects the structure of your home, as well as appliances within the home, such as the water heater. It may also cover damage to pipes, ceiling repairs, and other related areas.
  • Personal property coverage may pay for damages to your belongings, including electronics, rugs, and furnishings, minus your deductible.
  • Other structures coverage may pay to repair or replace detached buildings, guest houses, or other structures on your property that suffer damage due to plumbing problems.
  • Loss-of-use coverage may pay for lodging, meals, and other services if you can't stay in your home while the repairs are taking place.
  • Personal liability coverage may cover plumbing damage to your neighbor’s property if you’re liable.

How can you reduce the risk of plumbing problems?

There are proactive steps you can take to reduce the risk of major plumbing problems.

  • Have your pipes inspected annually: A professional plumber can determine whether any pipes have damage or where a leak is likely to occur and repair a potential problem before it starts. A plumber can also tell you whether your pipes need replacement. Many homes built from the late 1970s through the 1990s have polybutylene piping, which is known for being faulty.
  • Invest in a water monitor or water leak detection system: These devices attach to the pipes in your home and can alert you to drops in water pressure, which often signal a leak somewhere within the home. If caught early, leaks are easy to repair.
  • Ensure your pipes are properly insulated: This is especially important if you live in an older home and in a colder climate.
  • Use only flushable wipes: This simple step can avoid clogs in your plumbing system that could lead to costly sewage issues.

Still, even after taking every precaution, plumbing issues are fairly prominent for homeowners. Get tips to repair a water damaged home.

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