Burst Pipe Insurance Claim Tips
Don’t let water damage claims from a broken pipe be a drain on your homeowners insurance policy.
Updated December 16, 2022
Reading time: 5 minutes
Burst pipes can wreak havoc on your home, and if you suffer such an accident, your homeowners policy can help. Your insurance policy may cover the damage to your personal property, for example, as long as a burst pipe was the result of a sudden or accidental incident or event.
Here’s what you should know burst pipe insurance claims and what you need to do to file one successfully.
Learn More: A Guide to How Homeowners Insurance Works
A number of telltale signs indicate that your property has a burst pipe. Look for any, or all, of the following.
The most obvious evidence of a burst pipe is water damage. This could appear as wet spots on your floors, carpets, walls, or ceilings. You may also notice a general dampness or brownish water stains if the pipe is only leaky and not broken.
If your water bill has increased and you’re unsure why, you may have a burst pipe. As water makes its way out of the pipe, it’ll cause you to use more water than necessary, impacting your water bill. Even the smallest leak can lead to a sky-high water bill you didn’t expect.
Your shower may have great water pressure normally, but if that pressure suddenly drops or feels uneven, a burst pipe could be the culprit. If the damage is very serious, you might find that your water doesn’t flow at all.
A broken pipe can give your water an unpleasant, brownish color. This is because undiscovered burst pipes rust over time, changing your water from clean and clear to brown and dirty.
If your home suddenly smells like rotten eggs, you probably have a leaky pipe. The rotten egg smell is actually hydrogen sulfide, a naturally occurring gas that develops in sewer lines. Unfortunately, a good-smelling air freshener or candle won’t get rid of it.
Soggy spots, damp patches, or water pooling in your yard might all be warning signs of a burst pipe or underground water leak. You may also have a broken pipe if you notice sinkholes, potholes, or flooding on paved areas like your driveway, or flooding near, or in between, sprinklers.
Weird noises that come out of nowhere and sound like wheezing or gurgling might be caused by a burst pipe somewhere in or outside of your home. These sounds can be caused by water leaving the pipe and interacting with the air and puddles that surround it.
The home insurance claim process depends on your provider. In general, you’ll need to follow these four steps when you file a claim for coverage for a burst pipe incident.
Temporary repairs can protect your home from further damage. Shut off the water, turn up the heat, mop up the excess, and add a C-clamp to seal the leak temporarily. But don’t perform any major repairs until you meet with the insurance adjuster.
Your home insurance company will want clear proof that a broken pipe incident has occurred and examples of the damage. To provide this, take photos and videos of your soaked carpets, wet walls, and other places that have been impacted by the water. Then, send this documentation to the insurance claims adjuster and keep it for your own records. The more proof you have of the damage, the more likely your insurer will be to cover it.
Learn More: Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?
Most home insurance companies let you fill out an online form to file a claim. You’ll share basic information about your situation and the burst pipe. You might also be able to call your insurance agent if you prefer. If you’re unsure of how to initiate the claims process, don’t hesitate to reach out to your insurance agent directly or visit their website for more information.
After you submit a claim, your home insurance company will send an adjuster to your home to evaluate the burst pipe damage. Once they submit their report, you may receive a settlement to cover your repairs. The amount will depend on the extent of the damage and the cost to repair it.
A burst pipe can do tremendous damage to your property. Fortunately, you can do some things to prevent your pipes from bursting, including:
Insulate pipes. It’s a good idea to insulate pipes in your attic or crawl space, even if you don’t live in an area with freezing weather conditions. Many types of insulation are available, such as foam insulation, spray foam insulation, and fiberglass pipe covers.
Run your heating system consistently. Turn on your heating system, even if you leave your home. If it’s set to more than 50 degrees Fahrenheit, your pipes will have enough heat to stay warm and be less likely to burst. While this may cost you some extra money, it can prevent a pipe rupture and save you money in the long run.
Be proactive while you’re away from home. If you know you won’t be home for a few days, ask a trustworthy friend or neighbor to come to your home and look for signs of burst pipes. Identifying the problem quickly lets you take action before the situation worsens.
Turn on your faucets on cold days. Most pipes burst between an ice blockage and the faucet. If you let your faucets drip slowly when it’s extremely cold, you’ll reduce pipe pressure and be more likely to avoid a rupture.
Open bathroom and kitchen cabinet doors. Do you have cabinet doors under your kitchen and bathroom sinks? If so, open them up so the heated air from your home can circulate beneath them and keep your pipes warm.
Protect your outdoor plumbing. While outdoor plumbing is often overlooked, it can lead to pipe ruptures. If possible, drain your sprinkler system and disconnect garden hoses so they don’t trap water and freeze.
Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about burst pipes.
Since the summer heat increases the demand for water, it’s not uncommon for pipes to burst, especially in systems that haven’t been updated or checked in a while. Invasive tree roots can also lead to burst pipes and serious damage. Another common cause of summer pipe bursts is extreme heat waves that cause pipes to loosen and shift.
The length of time depends on where the pipe is located and the severity of the break. While a simple repair can take a half hour, a more extensive one can take a full day or even longer. On average, however, a burst pipe takes two to four hours to repair.
Factors like the type of pipe, its location, and the extent of the damage all affect the total expense. In general, you can expect to pay anywhere between $200 and $1,000. The average cost to fix a burst pipe is $500.
Anna Baluch is a Cleveland-based personal finance and insurance expert. With an MBA from Roosevelt University, she enjoys writing educational content that helps people make smart financial decisions. Her work can be seen across the internet on many publications, including Freedom Debt Relief, Credit Karma, RateGenius, and the Balance. Connect with Anna on LinkedIn.Learn More