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Does insurance cover burst pipes?

Protect your home against water damage, but pipe replacement probably won't be covered.

Unpredictable weather can also mean unpredictable expenses. Learn how your insurance may cover repairs to burst water pipes and replacement of other damaged property or personal belongings.

Are burst pipes covered by homeowner’s or renter’s insurance?

Your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy should help you cover expenses related to burst pipes, as long as it’s not caused by negligence or lack of maintenance.

For homeowners

Dwelling coverage for homeowner’s insurance can pay for the structural damage to your house. But you’ll also need personal property coverage to pay for any water damage to your belongings. Additional living expenses coverage can also pay the costs of a hotel, food and transportation if you need to stay somewhere else while the damage gets repaired.

If you’re found responsible for the damage, though, homeowner’s insurance may not cover the burst pipes. This could include if the pipes froze in winter weather and you didn’t take steps to prevent it. Also, your insurance may not cover old pipes needing replacement because these might fall under normal wear and tear.

For renters

For renter’s insurance, personal property coverage will take care of your belongings. Your landlord’s property insurance should cover the burst pipes and apartment damage.

However, if you’re deemed responsible for the damage, you may need property damage coverage to pay those costs, too.

Your insurance policy can cover a variety of damages related to burst pipes, but be aware of the details surrounding the incident:

  • Pipes that burst on their own. Insurance covers damage that occurs due to pipes bursting on their own.
  • Pipes bursting due to negligence. Renter’s insurance may pay for building damage to an apartment if burst pipes result from the tenant neglecting to care for the property.
  • Personal property damage. Personal property coverage pays for damage to your furniture and belongings, up to your policy limit.
  • House damage. Homeowner’s insurance pays for structural damage to your house if the burst pipes weren’t due to negligence.
  • Additional living expenses. This add-on coverage covers food and lodging if you need to stay elsewhere for a few nights.
  • Personal liability. Covers legal expenses if someone is injured in your home or apartment due to burst water pipes.
  • Medical payments. Pay medical expenses for others who are injured in your home or apartment due to burst water pipes.

Does homeowners insurance cover pipe replacement?

Most likely not. Your homeowners policy will likely cover the damage caused by your burst pipes, and the area around the burst pipes if it’s destructed to make repairs.

However, standard policies don’t cover replacement costs, so if your pipes need to be replaced, you probably won’t get any help from your home insurance policy.

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What’s not covered?

Your insurance company may deny your claim for a few reasons, including:

  • Burst pipes due to negligence. Your insurance may not cover costs if you didn’t use proper methods to prevent burst pipes. This could include prevention to keep pipes from freezing during winter weather or failure to replace old, weak pipes.
  • Normal wear and tear. The pipes may have burst because they needed replacement from normal wear and tear.
  • Personal injuries. Most insurance companies won’t cover medical expenses for you or your household if, say, you slipped and fell because of water from the leaking pipes.
  • Maximum coverage. If your damages exceed the costs of your coverage totals, you’ll have to pay for extra costs after you hit your maximum.

What should I do if my pipes burst?

If the pipes in your home or apartment have burst, you’ll need some key pieces of information when reporting the damage:

  1. Retrieve as much information about the pipe damage as possible, including location, photos and extent of the damage.
  2. List all damages and the value of the property damaged.
  3. Get receipts for the property damaged or medical expenses, if possible.
  4. If renting, report the damage to your landlord.
  5. File a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance claim with details of the pipe damage.

How do I file a claim for burst pipes?

To file a claim against your homeowner’s or renter’s policy:

  1. Gather all details of damages to the building and your personal belongings.
  2. Report damage to your landlord if renting. You may need to file a claim with your landlord’s property insurance for your belongings. This applies if the pipes burst on their own and caused damage to your personal property.
  3. Call the insurance company or file an online report from the company’s website.
  4. Speak with a claims representative, get a damage assessment and settle the claim. The claim settlement may take days or weeks, depending on the extent of the damage.
  5. Coordinate necessary repairs with professionals or with your landlord.

How much will it cost to repair out of pocket?

If your pipe damage isn’t covered by insurance, you may need to pay for home repairs out of pocket. The amount varies based on how much damage the burst pipes caused. For example, replacing your personal belongings will depend on the value of the damaged items.

Costs you may need to cover:

Damaged itemsAssociated cost
Water pipes (replacing sections)$350 to $1771
Carpet$2 to $5 per square foot, or $350 to $750 for a standard 12-by-12 room
Drywall$1.50 to $3 per square foot, or $480 to $720 for standard room size
Furniture or appliancescost varies, often $500 to $2,000 per piece

How to prevent water pipes from freezing

Frozen water pipes often lead to the pipes bursting. When the water freezes, it expands inside the pipe, putting pressure on the pipe walls. You can prevent damaged pipes due to freezing weather in several ways:

  • Keep your heater on. Keep the heater on in your house or apartment during the day and night, even if you’re away on vacation. The warm air will prevent the water in the pipes from freezing. Typically 50° to 55°F or above will keep your home warm enough to prevent frozen pipes.
  • Open cabinet doors. Opening cabinet doors underneath sinks also allows warmer air to reach the pipes.
  • Keep the garage door closed. The garage and basement are often vulnerable spaces due to lack of insulation. Keep the temperature higher by shutting doors and windows.
  • Use insulation. Cover vulnerable pipes with inexpensive pipe insulation from your local hardware store. Pipes on an exterior wall of your home are the most at risk of freezing.
  • Let your faucets drip. Running water takes longer to freeze than standing water. Prevent frozen pipes by allowing faucets to have a steady drip when the temperature drops below freezing.

Bottom line

Homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance usually cover damage from burst water pipes, as long as the damage didn’t happen out of negligence. In addition, renter’s insurance covers damages to personal belongings when personal property coverage is chosen.

Need insurance to cover you in case of future damage? Compare insurance providers that suit you best.

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