Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Pipes That Burst?


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Updated: May 22, 2024

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Homeowners insurance typically covers damage from burst pipes, offering crucial financial protection against sudden, unforeseeable events like extreme cold while excluding issues from neglect or gradual wear. Coverage extends to repairing or rebuilding damaged structures and replacing personal items, with certain policies also covering living expenses during repairs resulting from burst pipes. To ensure comprehensive coverage, consult with your insurance provider or an agent.

Key Takeaways

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Homeowners insurance typically covers damage from burst pipes due to sudden, unforeseeable events, excluding neglect or gradual damage.

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Preventive maintenance, such as insulating pipes and monitoring water pressure, can significantly reduce the risk of burst pipes.

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Immediate action and thorough documentation are essential to ensure a smooth claims process when filing a claim for burst pipe damage.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Pipes That Burst?

Homeowners insurance typically includes coverage for damage caused by burst pipes as part of its dwelling coverage. This protection is designed to help with repairs or rebuilding efforts due to water damage from bursting pipes.

It's essential to recognize that coverage depends on the cause of the burst. Check your coverage limits and deductibles by consulting with your insurance provider and checking your policy details.

When Are Burst Pipes Covered?

Sudden and accidental water damage caused by burst pipes are covered under homeowners insurance when a pipe bursts due to an unforeseen covered peril such as extreme weather conditions or fire. However, it's crucial to note that damage from pipes that burst due to neglect or lack of maintenance may not be covered. Coverage typically covers events like:

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    Fire

    Coverage for burst pipes resulting from fire includes repairs to water damage in the fire's aftermath, helping restore your home.

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    Cold Weather

    Pipes that burst due to freezing are covered, assuming homeowners took reasonable steps, such as insulation, to prevent pipes from freezing.

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    Windstorm

    Damage from burst pipes following a windstorm, which can compromise a home's structure and lead to pipe damage, is covered.

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    Lightning

    The resulting water damage is covered if lightning strikes, leading to power surges or other conditions causing pipes to burst.

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    Vandalism

    Homeowners insurance covers burst pipes if the damage is a result of vandalism, ensuring repairs for intentional harm to your plumbing system.

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    Theft

    In the rare event that theft leads to burst pipes, such as stolen pipes causing water damage, this scenario is covered under your policy.

When Aren’t Burst Pipes Covered?

There are specific circumstances under which homeowners insurance does not cover damage from burst pipes, such as normal wear and tear or neglect. Understanding these exceptions helps homeowners manage their expectations and responsibilities. Regular maintenance of pipes is expected from homeowners that’s why it’s typically not included in home insurance if the cause of burst pipes is the following:

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    Lack of maintenance

    If a pipe bursts due to poor maintenance or neglect, the resulting damage might not be covered. Homeowners are expected to maintain their plumbing systems to prevent such issues.

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    Gradual damage

    Damage resulting from a slow leak that has occurred over time, indicating a lack of maintenance or oversight, is typically not covered.

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    Frozen pipes in unheated areas

    If pipes freeze and burst in areas of the home that are not heated or properly insulated, and the homeowner did not take precautions to prevent freezing, the damage may not be eligible for coverage.

How to File a Claim for Burst Pipes

Filing a claim for damage from burst pipes involves promptly notifying your insurance provider and documenting the damage comprehensively. These steps are crucial in ensuring a smooth claims process and getting the necessary repairs started as soon as possible. It's essential to act swiftly and follow these steps diligently to facilitate the claims process and restore your home promptly:

1
Document the Damage

Take clear, detailed photos or videos of all affected areas and items. This evidence is crucial for your insurance claim.

2
Stop Further Damage

Take immediate action to prevent further damage, such as turning off the water supply, without putting yourself at risk. Keep receipts for any emergency repairs for reimbursement.

3
Contact Your Insurance Company

Report the incident to your insurance provider as soon as possible. They will guide you through the claims process and inform you of any specific documentation needed.

4
Complete the Claims Form

Fill out the claims form provided by your insurer with accurate details about the incident and the extent of the damage.

5
Schedule an Inspection

Your insurance company may send an adjuster to inspect the damage. Be prepared to show them the affected areas and discuss your documentation.

6
Review Settlement Offer

Once your claim is processed, review the insurance company's settlement offer to ensure it covers the necessary repairs or replacements.

What Causes Burst Pipes?

Burst pipes in a home can be caused by several factors, often related to extreme conditions or maintenance oversights. Understanding these causes can help you take preventive measures to protect your property and avoid the inconvenience and expense of water damage. By being aware of these common causes, you can implement strategies to monitor and maintain your plumbing systems, reducing the risk of burst pipes.

  • Freezing Temperatures: Water expands as it freezes, increasing pressure inside the pipe until it bursts.
  • Corrosion: Over time, pipes can corrode, especially if they are old or made of materials susceptible to rust and degradation.
  • High Water Pressure: Excessive water pressure can strain pipes beyond their capacity, leading to bursts.
  • Clogs: Severe blockages can cause water pressure to build up behind the clog, leading to a burst.
  • Aging Plumbing: Older plumbing systems may not withstand the demands of modern usage, leading to failures.
  • Improper Installation: Incorrectly installed plumbing can lead to weak points that may burst under pressure.
  • Physical Damage: Accidental damage during home renovations or due to external impacts can cause pipes to burst.

Tips to Maintain Your Plumbing System and Avoid Burst Pipes

Maintaining your plumbing system is key to avoiding the inconvenience and potential damage caused by burst pipes. Regular checks and preventive measures can significantly reduce the risk, ensuring your home remains safe and dry. Implementing straightforward maintenance strategies can safeguard against the common causes of pipe failures, preserving the integrity of your plumbing system over time.

1
Insulate Pipes

Protect pipes in crawl spaces, attics and exterior walls with insulation to prevent freezing in cold weather.

2
Monitor Water Pressure

Use a pressure gauge to check your home's water pressure regularly, ensuring it stays within safe limits (typically between 40 and 60 psi).

3
Conduct Regular Inspections

Have a professional plumber inspect your plumbing system annually for signs of wear, corrosion or potential issues.

4
Fix Leaks Promptly

Address any leaks or drips as soon as they're noticed to prevent further damage and reduce the risk of burst pipes.

5
Drain the System in Winter

If your home will be unoccupied during freezing temperatures, drain the system to prevent water from freezing in the pipes.

6
Install a Water Softener

If you have hard water, consider installing a water softener to reduce mineral buildup inside your pipes, which can cause corrosion and blockages.

7
Avoid Chemical Drain Cleaners

Use a plunger or a plumber's snake to clear clogs instead of chemical drain cleaners, which can erode pipes over time.

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About Mark Fitzpatrick


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Mark Fitzpatrick has analyzed the property and casualty insurance market for over five years, conducting original research and creating personalized content for every kind of buyer. Currently, he leads P&C insurance content production at MoneyGeek. Fitzpatrick has been quoted in several insurance-related publications, including CNBC, NBC News and Mashable.

Fitzpatrick earned a master’s degree in economics and international relations from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College. He is passionate about using his knowledge of economics and insurance to bring transparency around financial topics and help others feel confident in their money moves.