Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Broken Pipes?

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Digging up broken pipes (Photo: @gigibunny via Twenty20)
Homeowners insurance covers many issues that occur suddenly or accidentally. It’s comforting to know that you’re protected should most unforeseen issues happen inside your home. But does that coverage extend to plumbing issues like broken pipes?
A broken pipe inside your home has the ability to flush thousands of dollars out of your wallet if you don’t have coverage. Here’s what you should know about broken pipes and your homeowners insurance.

Causes of broken pipes

Pipes in your home can break and cause a leak for a few different reasons:
  • A gradual or progressive leak occurs when a pipe develops a minor leak due to rust, corrosion, or wear and tear. This type of leak typically starts out as a small drip but can lead to an all-out burst.
  • Accidental impact is when situations like your “minor leaguer” taking a few practice swings culminates in a home run against a water line or drain.
  • Frozen water lines occur when your home’s interior temperature drops below freezing for an extended period without the water flowing.
A water supply line could flood your basement or floors, while a broken drain line may leak less volume but it isn’t clean water. In both situations, huge amounts of water damage to your dwelling and property result.

Are broken pipes covered by insurance?

Some broken pipes may be covered by insurance, but others are not. The criteria for claiming a loss on your homeowners insurance usually requires that it’s a sudden or accidental loss.
An accident that impacts a plumbing line would be covered, although you’d be responsible for paying your insurance deductible.
A leak that starts as a minor drip but becomes a major gusher over weeks or months, though, doesn’t fall into a sudden nor an accidental category. As a homeowner, it’s your responsibility to maintain your plumbing system when you detect issues before they becomes severe. The plumbing repair may not be covered but some insurance providers may still cover the dwelling and property damage that results.
If your water lines freeze because you’ve been away for an extended period of time and didn’t first drain the plumbing, you’re on your own. But if you have someone checking in on your home daily and your furnace fails, causing the pipes to freeze, you may be eligible for insurance coverage.

Holes in your homeowners insurance coverage

Certain situations just aren’t going to be covered by your homeowners insurance when it comes to water damage. A standard homeowners policy won’t cover you for flood damage that enters your home from the outside; you need separate flood insurance for that. Damage from sewer backup typically has no coverage or very limited coverage unless you purchase a rider as well. And for many water leaks that involve your plumbing, the source of the leak itself isn’t covered—just the property and dwelling damage that results from it.