Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Polybutylene Pipes?
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If you own a home built in the 1970s, 80s, or 90s, be warned that your home insurance may not cover polybutylene pipes.
Homeowners insurance can be an absolute lifesaver when there’s an unexpected problem or disaster that’s covered by your policy. Insurance companies have to make money though, so they’re not going to insure things to the extent where they’re going to lose money covering your home.
That can create some gray areas where homeowners may not be sure what is or isn’t covered under their homeowners insurance policy. So, to figure out if your insurance covers polybutylene pipes, read on with this comprehensive guide by car insurance broker and comparison app Jerry.
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What is a polybutylene pipe and why are they a problem?
Polybutylene pipes are a type of plumbing pipe made out of plastic resin and popular in the 70s-90s. The material is extremely affordable, and the polybutylene pipes are easy to install for professionals and do-it-yourselfers alike.
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 those found in public water systems. Over time, polybutylene pipes will grow brittle and crack, which leads to leaking and costly repairs.
Key Takeaway: Polybutylene pipes are made of plastic, and are cheaper to replace than copper pipes. Their short lifespan, however, makes them more expensive in the long term.
Does homeowners insurance cover polybutylene pipes?
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 don’t 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, an insurance agent comes out to your home to inspect the condition of the place and its materials. 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.
This, however, is the perfect time to ask your company about their coverage options. Some companies are willing to provide coverage for an added cost, while others might already have it baked into their coverage.
But in general, homeowners insurance doesn’t cover polybutylene pipes.
Key Takeaway: Most insurance companies consider polybutylene pipes as likely to break, so they won’t insure them. Some of them could still give you insurance for them though, especially if you pay extra, so ask.
What should you do if you have polybutylene pipes?
If you have a polybutylene piping system, it’s probably only a matter of time before the pipes give out. That’ll leave you with plumbing issues and an expensive mess to clean up with no help from your homeowners insurance.
Call your insurance company
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.
Replace your polybutylene pipes
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. Consider having them replaced before a big issue occurs.
Key Takeaway: It is best to replace polybutylene pipes ASAP before a larger problem, which might not get covered by homeowners insurance, occurs.
Should I buy a home with polybutylene pipes?
If you really want to buy a home you’re in love with, it could be worth buying it even with polybutylene pipes.
There’s a chance your homeowner’s insurance covers polybutylene pipe leaks, so check with your carrier. If they don’t cover it, you should probably hire a plumber to inspect the house and assess what needs to be done to replace the pipes. Alternatively, you could also work that into a deal with your seller.
How can you tell if you have polybutylene pipes?
If you’re not sure if you have polybutylene pipes, you can always contact a plumber for inspection. There are also a few easy ways to identify the pipes. Polybutylene pipes are usually gray or black, flexible rather than rigid, and stamped with the code PB2110.
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