Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Polybutylene Pipes?

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Homeowners insurance can be an absolute lifesaver when there’s unexpected problem or disaster that’s covered by your policy. Rather than eating a hole in your pocket that you can’t afford, homeowners insurance allows those unfortunate moments to be manageable for homeowners.
There are, of course, some things that homeowners insurance doesn’t cover. Insurance companies have to make money, and so they’re not going to insure things to the extent where they’re going to lose money covering your home. That creates some gray areas where homeowners may not be sure what is or isn’t covered under their homeowners insurance policy.
One of the most common questions for homeowners who live in a home constructed in the 1970s, 80s, or 90s is whether or not their home insurance covers polybutylene pipes. If you find yourself asking that question, read on to learn everything you need to know about polybutylene pipes and homeowners insurance.

What’s the problem with polybutylene pipes?

Polybutylene pipes are a type of plumbing pipe made out of plastic resin. Polybutylene plumbing was very popular from the late 1970s until the middle of the 1990s. The material is extremely affordable, and the polybutylene pipers are easy to install for professionals and do-it-yourselfers alike, which made these types of pipes such a popular plumbing syste.
They eventually fell out of fashion because of how fragile they are. While they initially seemed like a good substitute for harder pipes, like copper ones, it soon became clear that they couldn’t stand up to some chemicals and materials, including many that are found in public water systems. Over time, and often over not much time at all, polybutylene pipes will grow brittle, which leads to cracking, which leads to leaking.

Are polybutylene pipes covered by homeowners insurance?

A bit of nuance is required to answer this question. But let’s start with the simplest answer: no. In general, polybutylene pipes are not covered by homeowners insurance. Most homeowners insurance companies view polybutylene pipes as too liable to burst and cause damage, and so they opt to not provide coverage. If you try and file an insurance claim after your polybutylene pipes give out, it’s most likely that your claim will be rejected by your insurance company.
There are always exceptions, however. Often when you purchase homeowners insurance, it includes an insurance agent coming out to your home to inspect the condition of the place, and the materials being used. They will make note of whether or not your plumbing is made of polybutylene pipes, and usually let you know that those pipes aren’t covered.
However, this is the perfect time to ask your company about their coverage options. Avoiding the subject doesn’t mean that your pipes will be covered. So ask them if they cover polybutylene pipes. Some companies are willing to provide coverage for an added cost, while others simply might already have it baked into their coverage.
But in general, homeowners insurance doesn’t cover polybutylene pipes.

What should you do if you have polybutylene pipes?

If you have a polybutylene piping system, it’s unfortunately probably only a matter of time before the pipes give out, leaving you with a plumbing issues and an expensive mess to clean up, with no help from your homeowners insurance.
There are two things you can do in this case. The first is call your homeowners insurance, and see if they’re willing to cover your pipes, for an added cost to your policy. The answer might be no, but it’s always worth trying.
The second thing you can do is have your polybutylene pipes replaced preemptively. Having plumbing replaced isn’t fun, and it’s certainly not cheap. But replacing polybutylene pipes before they give out is a lot cheaper than waiting for an issue to occur. If you wait for the pipes to give out, you’ll be left with water damage to deal with, in addition to burst pipes. That’s a lot of money, and a lot of hassle. If you get them changed preemptively, you can save a lot of both things.
Polybutylene pipes aren’t really used anymore, and for good reason. If you have polybutylene pipes, it’s unlikely that they’re covered by your homeowners insurance, and you should consider having them replaced before a big issue occurs.

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