Does Home Insurance Cover Plumbing and Pipe Leaks?

Jerry Brown
Written byJerry Brown
Jerry Brown
Jerry Brown
  • 4+ years of experience writing about personal finance

  • MBA from the University of Chicago

Jerry’s personal finance interest stemmed from his journey toward freedom from debt. He’s since covered insurance, debt management, and personal loans for major publications.

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Chris Schafer
Edited byChris Schafer
Chris Schafer
Chris SchaferSenior Editor
  • 15+ years in content creation

  • 7+ years in business and financial services content

Chris is a seasoned writer/editor with past experience across myriad industries, including insurance, SAS, finance, Medicare, logistics, marketing/advertising, and many more.

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Updated February 2, 2023 | Reading time: 6 minutes

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A plumbing issue can be stressful, especially if it causes major damage to your home. On top of that, repairs can cost thousands of dollars. Luckily, a standard home insurance policy generally covers sudden and accidental plumbing damage and leaks.

But home insurance doesn’t cover plumbing issues that occur as a result of normal wear and tear. And what types of damages are covered can vary by insurance company.

Here’s a look at what plumbing incidents home insurance might cover, what additional coverages you can buy to protect yourself against plumbing damage, and how to deal with plumbing issues.

Does homeowners insurance cover plumbing incidents?

A standard homeowners insurance policy generally covers accidental and sudden plumbing damage and leaks. For example, if a pipe suddenly breaks and causes water damage to your home, your home insurance policy should pay for repairs.

When it comes to plumbing damage and leaks, these types of coverages may apply:[1]

  • Dwelling: This coverage pays for damage to your home, as well as structures attached to it, such as an attached garage or backyard patio. So, if a pipe bursts unexpectedly and damages your floors and walls, your insurance should help pay for repairs.

  • Personal property: If a covered plumbing incident damages your personal belongings, personal property coverage may help you repair or replace them.

  • Other structures coverage: This part of your policy covers structures that aren’t attached to your home, such as an unattached garage or shed. If a plumbing issue causes damages to your shed and your policy covers it, your insurer will pay for repairs.

  • Loss of use: If a covered plumbing accident causes your home to become uninhabitable, loss of use coverage (also called additional living expense coverage) will help you pay for a variety of temporary living expenses, such as hotels, meals, and parking fees.

Home warranty vs. home insurance

While a home warranty can be beneficial, it’s not the same thing as a home insurance policy. A home warranty doesn’t protect your home against any unfortunate event, such as a fire or a windstorm. It’s a service agreement that can help you pay for the cost to repair or replace certain appliances or systems, like a washer, dryer, or plumbing system.[2]

The following table highlights some key differences between a home warranty and home insurance:

Home InsuranceHome Warranty
Required by lendersOptional
Provides coverage for damage to home and personal belongingsProvides coverage for some household appliances and systems
Must pay a deductible before benefits kick inService fee is typically required for requested repairs

Learn More: Home Insurance vs. Home Warranty

When does homeowners insurance cover plumbing incidents?

Although home insurance typically covers accidental plumbing damage and leaks, it doesn’t cover all circumstances.

The following table breaks down when your policy might cover and won’t cover plumbing damage and leaks:

Home Insurance Might CoverHome Insurance Won’t Cover
Damage caused by frozen pipes that burst in a heated homeDamages or leaks that occur as a result of normal wear and tear
Damage caused by sudden and accidental pipe leaksDamage or leaks that occur as a result of negligence or lack of maintenance
Damage caused by a faulty, leaking water heaterSewer backup

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Plumbing incidents and flood insurance: What’s the difference?

Plumbing incidents involve damage to your home that happens as a result of a problem with your plumbing system, such as a leaking pipe or clogged drain. While these incidents may cause water damage, they aren’t the same as flood damage — which standard home insurance doesn’t cover.

Flood insurance covers flooding that occurs as a result of water entering your home from outside due to a storm surge, flash flood, hurricane, or some other similar event.

Learn More: How Much Does Flood Insurance Cost?

Additional insurance policies for supplemental protection

To maximize your home’s protection against plumbing damage, consider adding these coverages:

  • Service line coverage: This endorsement helps you repair or replace broken utility lines that run to your home.

  • Water backup coverage: Water backup coverage, also known as sewer backup coverage, protects your home and personal belongings against damage caused by a sewer backup. You can purchase this type of coverage as a rider or add-on.

  • Mold damages riders: Depending on the circumstances, your homeowners insurance may or may not cover mold. You may need to add a mold endorsement (also known as a “rider”) to your policy to be better protected against this possibility.

What to know about flood insurance

Flood insurance is separate from your home insurance. This type of insurance protects your home and personal belongings if they’re damaged as a result of a flood. But it doesn’t cover water damage to your home caused by plumbing issues, such as a burst pipe or sewer backup.

You can purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or from a private insurer.

Interesting Information:

You may think you only need flood insurance if you live close to water or in a high-risk area. But about 20% of all NFIP claims are for homes in areas that are considered at moderate or low risk of flooding, according to FEMA.[3]

How to deal with potential plumbing issues

It’s important to address plumbing issues as soon as possible. Unresolved plumbing problems can lead to additional damage, a higher water bill, and higher repair bills.

What’s more, water damage from pipe leaks could cause mold to grow in your home — which can sometimes cause health issues.

How to identify pipe leaks

Although a pipe leak may produce visible damage, it can sometimes go undetected. Here are some tips you can use to identify pipe leaks, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

  • Check your water bill. A higher-than-normal water bill can be a sign that you have a water leak.

  • Read your water meter. Find your water meter and do a reading while no water is being used. After two hours, if the meter reading is different, you likely have a leak.

  • Do a toilet test. The EPA recommends placing a few drops of food coloring into your toilet’s tank and letting it sit for 10 minutes. If the water in the bowl changes colors, this means you have a leak.

How to stop plumbing issues

If a pipe breaks, turn off the water using the main shut-off valve to prevent additional damage. Also, turn off the electricity as soon as you can to prevent electrocution. Call a plumbing professional if you need help resolving the plumbing problem.

Before you clean up and dry the affected area, take pictures to document any damage. These can come in handy if you decide to file a claim with your insurer.

Learn More: Burst Pipe Insurance Claim Tips

How to prevent future plumbing issues

Here are some things you can do to minimize the chances of future plumbing issues:

  • Winterize your plumbing. You can winterize your plumbing by insulating your pipes, covering your air vents, and opening your cabinet doors to allow heat to reach uninsulated pipes.

  • Eliminate meddlesome tree roots. Tree roots can cause plumbing problems if they grow into your sewer line. If you notice any encroaching tree roots, consider removing them.

  • Inspect your sump pump. You — or a plumbing professional — should check your sump pump at least once a year to make sure it’s working properly.

Home insurance and plumbing FAQs

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about home insurance and plumbing incidents.

  • Does homeowners insurance cover a leaking pipe in the wall?

    Standard home insurance typically covers water damage from a leaking pipe in your wall if the damage was due to a sudden and unexpected event. But if the water damage to your home is caused by a gradual leak that you didn’t address, your insurer won’t help you pay for repairs.

  • Does your homeowners insurance cover pipe replacement?

    Your home insurance might cover pipe replacement if the damage was caused by a sudden and accidental event — for example, a pipe bursting as a result of freezing weather in a heated home. But pipe damage that occurs as a result of normal wear and tear isn’t covered.

  • Can your homeowners insurance be canceled for nonremoval of tree debris?

    This likely depends on your specific situation and the insurance laws in your state. Generally, insurance companies cancel policies for a handful of common reasons, such as failure to pay your premiums, intentionally providing incorrect information on an application, or a physical change to the insured property that increases its risk. If your insurance company inspects your property and decides your failure to remove tree debris has created a hazard or increased your home’s risk of damage, it’s possible it might cancel your policy.

  • Is a home warranty worth the money?

    Purchasing a home warranty can be beneficial since some of them provide limited coverage for your plumbing systems. But whether a home warranty is worth the money depends on several factors, such as how much it costs, what it covers, and whether you can afford to pay for plumbing repairs out of pocket.

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Sources

  1. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "A Consumer's Guide to Home Insurance." Accessed January 30, 2023
  2. Federal Trade Commission. "Warranties for New Homes." Accessed January 30, 2023
  3. Federal Emergency Management Agency. "National Flood Insurance Program Fact Sheet." Accessed January 31, 2023
Jerry Brown
Jerry Brown

Jerry has been writing about personal finance for over four years. He started writing about personal finance in 2017 to document his journey to get rid of thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Two years ago, he pivoted away from writing for his own blog to focus on writing for major publishers like Bankrate, Forbes Advisor and Credible. He covers a variety of topics, including insurance, debt management and personal loans.

Chris Schafer
Edited byChris SchaferSenior Editor
Chris Schafer
Chris SchaferSenior Editor
  • 15+ years in content creation

  • 7+ years in business and financial services content

Chris is a seasoned writer/editor with past experience across myriad industries, including insurance, SAS, finance, Medicare, logistics, marketing/advertising, and many more.

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