Considering that plumbing is the most common home repair, it’s a good idea to know if your home insurance policy covers plumbing-related issues. It’s also vital to know the specifics of your coverage – that is, what is generally protected by your homeowners policy and what may require additional coverage. If a plumbing-related issue causes sudden and accidental damage, including to walls, floors, carpets, furniture and furnishing, electrical equipment and appliances, then in many cases you’ll be very glad to have homeowners insurance. Your insurance policy may also cover mold and mildew cleanup in this case.
Does home insurance cover plumbing and leaks?
Whether your home insurance covers plumbing leaks depends on the nature of the issue. If you experience water damage from leaky plumbing or household systems and appliances that is sudden and unexpected, then your homeowners insurance will generally cover the cost of the resulting water damage. For instance, if your basement floods due to a sudden break in your water supply pipe, your insurance can help you cover the loss or damages from the water.
However, it typically won’t cover preventable water damage. For instance, let’s say you go on vacation in the winter. Your home is located in a cold-weather area, and before leaving you turn your heat off but leave your water on. If your pipes freeze and burst, any resulting water damage will not likely be covered. On the contrary, if you experience water damage from a frozen pipe breaking, and your home was adequately heated at the time of the incident, your insurance would cover the resulting water damage.
If the plumbing leak is tucked away in your walls and unknown to you, insurance may be able to step in to cover some water damage repairs. But if water damage results from repeated seepage that occurred over a period of weeks, months, or years, it may very well be denied. Every situation is different. This is why it’s important to watch out for any signs of water leaks in your home.
When does home insurance not cover plumbing problems?
Homeowners insurance typically won’t cover plumbing problems that are considered preventable. Neglect would be a reason you might not be covered. For example, if your pipes have been leaking for weeks or months and it is visible and apparent, insurance likely won’t cover the damage. This holds true if a known, unaddressed leak causes mold – if the damage was preventable, insurance will not cover it. Also, if your pipes freeze and break and your home is not sufficiently heated when they freeze, the damage won’t be covered. It’s a good idea, if possible, to shut off the water supply when leaving for extended periods of time to reduce the risk of water damage.
A natural disaster like flooding is also usually not covered by a homeowners insurance policy. But flood insurance can be bought separately and is very much worth considering if you live in a flood-prone area.
Sewage backups due to service line issues also aren’t typically covered, as most of these issues are caused outside the boundary of the home, like by city line issues or tree root damage. Also, if you have an overflowing sump pump, it normally wouldn’t be covered. However, you can add an optional water backup coverage rider for sewer line backups and blocked pipes.
Lastly, insurance companies consider known general wear and tear and any issues resulting from that to be a home maintenance issue and usually don’t cover it under their policy. However, if wear and tear on the plumbing is unknown to the homeowner, your policy would not cover the plumbing repairs, but could cover the resulting water damage.
Additional home insurance coverage for plumbing
Seeing as water damage is a very common source of insurance claims, accounting for nearly 25% of claims with an average cost per claim of $11,650, it’s essential to get the best possible coverage you can for your situation while taking measures to prevent catastrophes. 1
Nationwide offers a smart home insurance program that protects your home against water damage, fires, break-ins, and more through the Notion Smart Home Monitoring System. This program provides an additional layer of home protection and early detection to avoid or reduce damage. This coverage even comes with a discount on the cost of your property insurance.
How to prevent plumbing problems and protect your home
You can take several preventative measures to avoid plumbing problems and protect your home from plumbing-related damage. First, it’s a good idea to have your pipes inspected yearly by a professional plumber. A professional can tell you if any pipes are damaged, if there is a leak, or where one is likely to occur, and can potentially fix any problems before they arise. They can also let you know if your pipes need to be updated or replaced. Investing in a water monitor can also be beneficial as a water monitor is attached to the pipes and will alert you to a drop in water pressure which can be a sign of a leak. If so, this may allow you to repair it before it causes significant damage.
You may also want to insulate your pipes, especially if your home is older and you live in a cold climate. If you leave your home unattended during the winter months, you’ll also need to winterize your plumbing. This includes shutting off the main water valve, removing excess water from the pipes, opening the drain valves and taps, and checking the sink and tub drains with drain traps. As part of your winterization, you may want to add antifreeze in certain traps and even to toilets to help avoid freezing, if all the water cannot be physically drained/removed.
While these are vital steps in keeping your home safe from potential plumbing problems, incidents can arise at any time, and you’ll want to be protected, as these types of issues tend to be quite costly. Insurers like Nationwide offer homeowners insurance and additional coverage options that will protect your home for an affordable rate.
Ensure your home is protected from the unexpected. To ensure you’re properly covered, contact an independent agent or get a free online homeowners insurance quote. In addition, you can learn more about how Nationwide’s smart home insurance program can protect your home and even catch problems before they become catastrophes.