If there is anything worse than the damage caused by broken plumbing, it is having to shell out the money to pay for repairs. Unfortunately, plumbing repairs are often quite expensive despite the seemingly simple nature of plumbing itself. That is where homeowner’s insurance comes in. A typical policy covers plumbing repairs to some degree.
Note that the information in this post is general in nature. Your homeowner’s policy is a unique policy written for your home and your circumstances. It may not cover the same items your neighbor’s insurance covers. Therefore, you will ultimately have to speak to your insurance agent or an adjuster to determine what types of repairs your insurance covers.
Plumbing Repairs vs. Flood Damage
The first thing you should know is that insurance companies draw a distinction between plumbing repairs and flood damage. Repairs related to plumbing problems would be the result of something like a dishwasher leak or a broken shut off valve. Flood damage is caused by rain water or flood waters from rivers, streams, etc.
Covering plumbing repairs is pretty standard for homeowner’s insurance. However, homeowner’s policies do not cover flood damage. Because flood damage is both unique and extensive, homeowners have to purchase separate flood insurance if they want protection against mother nature.
Far too many homeowners find out they do not have flood coverage until it’s too late. If you don’t have flood insurance despite living in a known floodplain, you may be living on borrowed time. Purchase separate flood coverage before you find your home inundated.
What Insurance Covers
As for what types of plumbing problems homeowner’s insurance typically covers, it is hard to nail down exactly. Again, policies vary from one to the next. The general rule is that accidental damage and the losses incurred as a result are covered by homeowner’s policies.
Let us say you are remodeling the bathroom when, during the demolition process, you accidentally break one of the water lines feeding your shower. In the time it takes you to figure out what happened and get the water shut off, the bathroom could be flooded. Damage to the walls and floors would be normal. You might also have damage to the ceiling underneath, complements of the water seeping through the floor. Time to call your insurance agent.
What Insurance Doesn’t Cover
The rules for what insurance policies do not cover can be just as fluid, but there are some basics that are pretty consistent. First of all, homeowner’s insurance will not cover plumbing repairs made necessary due to negligence. This could be your negligence or that of someone else.
Turning the heat off in your Northern home while you spend the winter in Florida could be considered negligence if the pipes in that Northern home froze and burst. Your insurance company would consider you negligent for not leaving the heat on. Likewise, a careless plumber who breaks something due to rushing the job might be considered negligent. Your insurance company might insist that the plumber’s liability insurance pay for the damage.
Salt City Plumbing, out of Salt Lake City, UT, says that many homeowners are surprised to learn that their insurance companies will not cover plumbing repairs made necessary by normal wear and tear. A great example is water heater repair. Water heaters wear out over time. Homeowners should anticipate that. Most homeowner’s insurance policies will not pay to replace a water heater that is no longer functioning.
Most homeowner’s insurance covers plumbing repairs and subsequent damage deemed accidental. Yours probably does, too. But if you are ever concerned about your coverage being inadequate, talk to your insurance agent.