Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Plumbing Problems?

Standard homeowners insurance policies cover most, but not all, types of plumbing issues.

A.M. Steinbach
Written byA.M. Steinbach
A.M. Steinbach
A.M. SteinbachInsurance Writer
  • Full-time writer for 5+ years

  • Two-time Emmy Award nominee

A Harvard graduate, Mark has worked as a freelance personal finance and tech writer. He’s also written for Saturday Night Live.

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Evelyn Pimplaskar
Evelyn PimplaskarEditor-in-Chief, Director of Content
  • 10+ years in insurance and personal finance content

  • 30+ years in media, PR, and content creation

Evelyn leads Insurify’s content team. She’s passionate about creating empowering content to help people transform their financial lives and make sound insurance-buying decisions.

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Updated May 3, 2024

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No one enjoys dealing with serious plumbing issues. Repairs can be labor-intensive, time-consuming, and expensive. Fortunately, a standard homeowners insurance policy will cover most plumbing issues.

But homeowners insurance excludes some plumbing problems. For instance, your homeowners policy won’t cover issues that arise from wear and tear or unresolved problems like a leaky faucet. Other situations, like plumbing problems resulting from a sewer backup, might require additional coverages.

Read on to learn more about what is and isn’t covered, the parts of your homeowners insurance policy that cover plumbing problems, and what to do to prevent plumbing damage.

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Plumbing issues home insurance covers

Homeowners insurance covers damage caused by many different plumbing issues. Here are a few examples of covered events:

  • Damage from a burst pipe: Homeowners insurance covers plumbing issues that are sudden and unexpected — such as a burst pipe — assuming you took necessary steps to protect your home’s pipes. For example, if you didn’t heat your home in the winter, your insurer may see the burst pipe as preventable and not cover it.

  • Damage from a leaky pipe: If a pipe starts leaking suddenly, your policy will cover any resulting damage, assuming you resolve the issue promptly.

  • Damage from a faulty water heater: If your water heater is suddenly on the fritz, home insurance will cover the resulting water damage and may help replace the water heater, depending on your policy details.

  • Mold from an unexpected burst: Mold coverage varies from policy to policy. Your homeowners policy may cover mold that stemmed from a sudden issue like a burst pipe, but it might not cover the cost of mold from a persistent leak — or may require additional coverage.

Plumbing problems that homeowners insurance won’t cover

Standard home insurance policies typically don’t cover damage from all types of plumbing issues. Policies may not cover the following scenarios:

  • Damage from an unresolved issue: If your pipe has been leaking for weeks or months without repair, your policy likely won’t cover the cost of any ensuing damage (including mold). An insurer will likely take the position that you could’ve fixed the pipe and prevented a more serious issue.

  • Damage from neglect or poor maintenance: Say you’re traveling for weeks during the winter months and you leave the heat in your home off — then a pipe freezes and bursts. Insurers typically consider this kind of issue to be preventable and won’t cover it in a standard homeowners insurance policy.

  • Damage from sewer backup: Most home insurance companies require homeowners to purchase a separate rider that covers damage from a faulty sewer.

Important Information

Homeowners insurance usually only pays for damage resulting from a covered event. So if your dishwasher malfunctions and leaking water damages your kitchen floor, your homeowners policy will pay to repair or replace the floor — but not the dishwasher.

Parts of a home insurance policy that cover plumbing

Homeowners insurance is a package policy, which means one policy contains several different coverages. The following coverages kick in after a plumbing issue:

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/150x150/453d0b710d/types-of-houses-96x96-yellow_025-mansion.svg

    Dwelling coverage

    Dwelling coverage protects damage to the structure of your home, so it’ll typically cover damage from a burst pipe.[1]

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    Personal property coverage

    A home insurance policy covers damage to personal belongings in your home. For example, if a leaky pipe causes water damage to some home electronics, personal property insurance covers the cost of replacements.

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    Other structures coverage

    This coverage handles damage to other parts of your property, like a shed, guest house, or detached garage. This part of your policy covers plumbing issues that occur in these spaces.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/150x150/b022eb76ef/buildings-96x96-green_svg-013-hotel.svg

    Additional living expenses (ALE) coverage

    Say a serious plumbing issue calls for days of repairs, which force you and your family out of your home. ALE is also called loss-of-use coverage, and it can pay for resulting hotel costs.

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    Personal liability coverage

     If your plumbing issues damage a neighbor’s property, your personal liability insurance will handle their repair costs.

Remember that you’ll still have to pay your home insurance deductible out of pocket. If your deductible is $500, you’ll pay $500 for repairs before your home insurance company will handle the remaining costs.

Average cost of homeowners insurance

Homeowners pay an average of $1,770 per year for coverage, according to Insurify data. The following factors affect your rates:

  • Location: Floridians pay an average of more than $9,000 per year for homeowners insurance; homeowners in Delaware pay a little over $1,000. Generally, homeowners in areas with severe weather patterns pay much more for home insurance.

  • Your home’s age and condition: Older homes have a higher chance of future claims, which means they’re more expensive to insure. The type of material used to build your home and its claims history can also affect your home insurance rates.

  • How much insurance you purchase: Purchasing higher coverage limits or coverage add-ons like earthquake insurance will raise your monthly insurance premiums.

  • Your deductible amount: A higher home insurance deductible typically means a lower premium.

  • Your credit: In most states, insurers can consider your credit history when setting home insurance rates.

  • Your claims history: You may pay more based on the number or types of claims you’ve filed in the past.[2]

For plumbing, in particular, the materials used to build your home are important. If your home has an old plumbing system with deteriorating pipes, your home may be more expensive to insure.

Additional coverages to protect plumbing

You may decide you want some additional coverages to protect you in the event of a serious plumbing issue. The following add-ons to your policy are worth considering:

  • Service line coverage: Many public utility lines run to and from your home. Basic homeowners policies usually don’t cover damage to these pipes, so you may want to purchase service line coverage.

  • Water backup coverage: Standard home insurance doesn’t cover water damage from a backed-up sewer. Luckily, most insurance companies offer water backup as an additional coverage.

  • Mold damage riders: Standard home insurance policies offer limited coverage for mold. If you want your policy to cover all instances of mold damage, you’ll need to purchase a mold damage rider at an additional cost.[3]

  • Flood insurance: Flood water can seep through the ground and do significant damage to your plumbing system. You’ll need a separate flood insurance policy to cover damage from flooding. You can buy flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program or private flood insurance companies. Cost varies by your state’s flood risk.

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What to do if you discover a plumbing issue

Discovering a plumbing issue is never pleasant — but taking the following steps right away can minimize damage and expenses:

  • Stop the leak immediately. You may have to shut off the water, turn up the heat in your home, and add a clamp to the pipe.

  • Document the damage. Take pictures and make sure you’re ready to clearly explain what’s wrong with your plumbing system.

  • Do your research. If the issue is minor, it may be a good idea to handle it with some do-it-yourself (DIY) repairs. You may want to do this if the cost of repairs is less than your deductible.

  • File an insurance claim. Say you decide you need professional help. You can access your insurer’s claims service by calling your insurance agent or using your company’s mobile app. A claims adjuster will come to your property to assess the damage.

  • Find a repair service. Your insurance company may have a list of approved repair companies, or you can find options yourself through online research or asking friends and family for referrals.

Performing repairs and inspections to your plumbing system on a regular basis can ensure you avoid issues in the future.

How to prevent plumbing problems

The best way to avoid costly plumbing problems is to prevent them. Here are some easy tips for preventing plumbing problems:

  • Purchase a leak-detection system. Leaks can easily slip by without notice. Fortunately, technology can help. Water detection systems alert you when a leak has sprung up — and buying one could qualify you for a discount from your insurer.

  • Shut off the water supply to your washing machine as necessary. If you’re going on vacation, you don’t want to worry about your washing machine malfunctioning and causing water damage.[4]

  • Check pipes and appliances regularly. Make it a yearly practice to check pipes for cracks and inspect hoses connected to water heaters, dishwashers, and more.

  • Be smart about where you place valuables. You can avoid a major insurance claim if you move valuable possessions out of range from a plumbing system that could leak.

  • Seal any gaps in your home’s exterior. Regular caulking and sealing can prevent cold air from entering your home and freezing pipes.

  • Insulate pipes. Proper insulation around your plumbing system can prevent freezing and cracking, particularly for pipes in hard-to-reach places.

Home insurance and plumbing FAQs

If you still have questions about home insurance and plumbing issues, this additional information may help.

  • Does homeowners insurance cover bathtub leaks?

    It depends. If your bathtub suddenly springs a leak, insurance will cover any resulting water damage. But if your bathtub leaks due to gradual wear and tear, insurance coverage won’t apply. Try to caulk and reseal any cracks around your bathtub regularly to prevent leaks.

  • Will homeowners insurance cover clogged pipes?

    It’s possible. Insurance may cover a clogged pipe if the clog arises suddenly. Clearing up a clogged pipe or drain is a fairly straightforward DIY home project. Consider solving the problem safely with tools around your house before filing an insurance claim.

  • Does homeowners insurance cover corroded pipes?

    Not typically. Corrosion usually occurs over time due to regular wear and tear or improper maintenance, which isn’t covered by insurance.

  • Will home insurance pay to replace pipes?

    It depends. Home insurance may pay to replace pipes if the damage is sudden and the result of a covered peril. It won’t pay to replace pipes that have deteriorated over time. Certain types of pipe replacement may require a sewer line endorsement.[5]

Sources

  1. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "A Consumer's Guide to Home Insurance."
  2. Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner. "How do insurance companies set homeowner rates?."
  3. Realtor.com. "Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold? Combat This Frightful Fungus."
  4. Insurance Information Institute. "Water Damage: What's Covered; What's Not."
  5. NYC Environmental Protection. "Service Line Protection Program."
A.M. Steinbach
A.M. SteinbachInsurance Writer

A.M. is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and content marketing strategist who's worked with major brands in insurance, tech, finance, and healthcare. He also contributes to The Average Joe, a personal finance newsletter that reaches over 250,000 daily readers. Since 2019, he's written for Insurify, breaking down a diverse range of insurance topics into crisp, readable prose.

Evelyn Pimplaskar
Edited byEvelyn PimplaskarEditor-in-Chief, Director of Content
Evelyn Pimplaskar
Evelyn PimplaskarEditor-in-Chief, Director of Content
  • 10+ years in insurance and personal finance content

  • 30+ years in media, PR, and content creation

Evelyn leads Insurify’s content team. She’s passionate about creating empowering content to help people transform their financial lives and make sound insurance-buying decisions.

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