What kind of plumbing issues does homeowner’s insurance cover?

Does home insurance cover plumbing problems?

Plumbing is an essential part of your home, but one you may have unpleasant experiences with. We all know plumbing to be the water in your home, but it's also your sewerage and potentially your gas. Issues with plumbing may be caused by storms, wear and tear, and other events can be a source of frustration.

When it happens, you may only realise the damage when everything goes awry: plumbing leaks could result in seepage or mould forming on your walls, your toilet could overflow, the shower could stop working, and your washing machine might run into problems, too. 

While it's always a good idea to make sure you check the plumbing regularly plumbing problems can crop up. As a homeowner, you will be responsible for regularly inspecting and maintaining the plumbing along with other fixtures in your home.  

A homeowner’s insurance policy typically covers plumbing problems such as leaks caused by accidents like pipe bursts or seepage from malfunctioning equipment like air conditioners. For example, if your roof were to leak due to hail damage or a tree falling, you may be able to file a claim on your home insurance policy. 

If you find damage in your home caused by plumbing issues, you should speak to your homeowner’s insurance provider before making emergency repairs. Your insurer will seek to assess the damage before processing your claim, although your policy may not cover any additional damage caused. Taking photos of the damaged areas may be useful in case you need to back up your damage claim with evidence of accidental damage. Once your insurer agrees, you can call a professional to make emergency repairs. 

When you file a claim for compensation, an assessor appointed by your insurance provider will visit your home for an inspection. If the assessor finds that the damage is caused by negligence or wear and tear, your claim will likely be denied. If you disagree with the assessor, you can request an assessment by another professional not affiliated to your insurer. If the cause of the damage is confirmed as an accident, your homeowner’s insurance provider may reimburse you for the necessary plumbing repairs or request a preferred builder to make the necessary fixes. Your insurer may let you hire a builder of your choice if your policy allows it.

If your policy doesn’t cover any of these potential situations, water damage may not be covered. Reading the insurer’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) can give you a good idea of what the policy covers. However, if you find your policy isn't equipped to handle what you think your home needs protection for, consider shopping around for a new home insurance policy that does. 

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This article was reviewed by Head of Content Leigh Stark before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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Learn more about home insurance

Is hail damage covered by home insurance?

If storms are among the incidents covered by your home insurance policy, hail damage protection is more than likely assured. While all policies differ based on your needs and what a home insurance provider will offer, some things are close to a certainty. 

Extreme weather events tend to be unpredictable in their severity, but dangerous all the same. You'll never be able to fully prepare for any damage caused, be it lightning, strong winds, rain leading to flooding, or hailstorms, but home insurance can at least provide you with a way to deal with life's unpredictable nature. 

If your home suffers from hail damage, you can file a claim with your insurer. In the event that this happens, remember to take pictures of any hail damage as an insurance adjuster will need to evaluate the impact on your home. Any additional wind damage to your roof will also need to be documented similarly.

You may want to check if your home insurance also covers hail damage to the cars parked on your property, and then file the claim for the total damage caused by the hailstorm. Once your claim is approved, your insurer should offer you either a cash settlement or refer you to a network vendor for the necessary repairs.

Does home insurance cover rising damp?

If you spot mould formation on the walls of your home, the cause could likely be rising damp. As a homeowner, you are expected to monitor your home for rising damp and the resulting mould damage. If you do have rising damp in your home, the renovation of your walls can cost you thousands of dollars. Worse, most home insurance policies won’t cover you for such repairs, as mould damage is considered gradual damage arising from negligence or poor maintenance. 

In most cases, rising damp is a structural issue which occurs when the damp proof course (DPC) installed in your home is damaged or rendered inadequate. For instance, a broken or leaking storm pipe may result in water accumulating below the floor of your home, causing damp to rise through the walls. Equally, the sub-floor area or the DPC may be obstructed or damaged, for instance, by a concrete slab. 

You will need to hire experts to locate the exact problem and make the necessary repairs. Again, the issue causing rising damp can also result in other problems such as termite damage, which means you may need to act quickly. Remember, your home insurance will likely not cover termite damage either.   

Does home insurance cover tree root damage?

While trees can add much beauty to your property, they can be an indirect cause of damage to your home. For instance, a storm could knock branches off trees on to your roof or windows. A really strong storm may even cause the tree to topple entirely. 

Home insurance may not directly cover tree damage to your house. However, the policy will likely cover the incident, such as a storm, which resulted in branches or uprooted trees falling on your home. You can check your home insurance policy’s coverage for various incidents by reading the insurer’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS).

You should remember that trees can require regular maintenance, just like the plumbing in our homes. Insurers may check whether the tree, its roots or its branches were rotting due to a lack of care, in which case the damage caused by the tree falling on your home may not be considered accidental damage. Again, if a branch falls on your house while you’re trimming it, you may not be able to claim compensation from your insurer for the damage. If any trees are growing too close to the walls of your home, consider checking that none of the branches or roots is causing any stress to your home, which can result in structural damage.

Does homeowner’s insurance cover electrical problems?

Every home has a range of electrical fittings,appliances and wiring running through the structure of the house. You can face many kinds of electrical problems but, unfortunately, your home insurance policy may not cover all of them. Damage accidentally caused by natural accidents may be covered, as might the repair of motors if you have opted for fusion damage cover. For example, if there’s a lightning storm and your home suffers a power surge which causes a short circuit, any repairs needed may be covered if your homeowner’s insurance contains lightning damage.

However, if any electrical appliances stop working, even a home and contents insurance policy may not cover the cost of repairing the appliance. Also, you should check with your insurer about making any electrical repairs inside your home as that may affect your coverage. 

Usually, in Australia, you need to hire a professional electrician to carry out any inspections or repairs to the electrical system in your home. This can include conducting periodic checks to make sure the electrical wirings are not exposed to seepage, flooding, or attacks by rodents. Consider asking your insurance provider about optional coverage for fixed electrical appliances such as air-conditioners and washing machines.  

Does home insurance cover tenant damage?

If you have a property that you rent out to tenants, you may ask, does home insurance cover tenant damage? Generally, as a landlord, you’ll require a different type of insurance policy than a regular home and contents insurance that offers coverage for the unique situations faced by landlords.

Landlord insurance

As a landlord, you must insure against additional risks to protect your investment. A landlord home and contents insurance policy covers loss due to natural disasters, storm, and fire. Generally, it also covers fixtures like stovetops, light fittings, window coverings, carpets, and ovens.

Additionally, you may protect yourself against any loss arising due to damage to your property caused by your tenants or their guests. Some landlord insurance policies may also protect you against financial loss due to unpaid rent.

Does homeowners insurance cover tenant damage? In most cases, regular homeowners’ insurance policy will not cover such damage. It’s always best to refer to the product disclosure statement (PDS) to clearly understand what is included and excluded from your home insurance policy.

Does home insurance cover termite damage?

It is unlikely that the average home insurance policy will cover damage caused by termites, mice, or other vermin, which are typically the result of negligence. For instance, water may have seeped from a heater or washing machine and dampened the woodwork in your home, attracting termites. Since termites usually build colonies, you’ll need to deal with the existing infestation and also take preventative steps to prevent future termite damage.

Treating your home for termite damage can be quite expensive, and you’ll likely have to make significant repairs depending on the size of the infestation. You may want to check if your neighbours have also had termite damage issues, and consider taking more long-term measures to keep termites away.  For example, you could install a chemically-treated soil barrier or baiting station, both of which may be effective for a few years. 

Consider inspecting your home  for any leakage or seepage from time to time, especially in the flooring or the outer edges of your home, as a precaution against damage by vermin. You may also want to consider hiring a pest control professional who can inspect and treat your home to protect against termites.

Does homeowners insurance cover blown-down fences?

Most insurers consider fences a permanent fixture on your property. They are ranked alongside your home, garages or sheds, swimming pools, and solar panels when it comes to your home insurance policy. Your policy, therefore, covers your fences for the same incidents that cover your home or other parts of your property. For example, if there’s a major storm in your area and fences get blown down, you can get your insurer to pay for the cost of repairing the fence. You can check your insurer’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to confirm that your policy covers the incident before filing a claim. Also, if the fence that has been damaged or blown down divides your property from your neighbour’s, you both may file a shared fence damage claim with your respective insurers. 

You should remember that there may be situations when your home insurance policy doesn’t cover damage to the fences on your property. Suppose you were working on or near the fence and cause some sort of damage to it you may not be able to claim compensation in this case.  Wear and tear on a wooden fence from water-logging near the fence, can be considered negligence on your part and your insurer may deny your claim.

Is my home insurance covered for weather damage?

It is important to understand what is covered and what isn't covered in your home insurance policy before purchasing it. One crucial point to consider at the time of evaluating home insurance policies is whether it includes home insurance weather damage cover, and what it actually means if it does.

Typically, the protection afforded by home insurance actually depends on how the home was damaged or affected by conditions. The whole idea behind home insurance is to protect you from loss or damage against an unexpected, sudden event, like a fire or storm. If your home was in the way of a storm and your roof was damaged, which also caused internal water destruction, you may be covered for the damage to the roof and the property. The same holds true for walls or a fence that got damaged in a storm or flood.

However, you may not be covered if the damage occurred because your property was not well maintained and your home suffered a leak. A poorly maintained fence is less likely to be covered by home insurance.

Does home insurance cover accidental damage?

Home insurance offers cover for any damage to your house and most policies cover the main building, garage, permanent attachments, and other external buildings that can be locked. 

Every insurance policy lists the defined events that will be covered, such as fires, floods, lightning strikes, theft, or falling trees. A few may also offer the option of accidental damage home insurance cover for other possible mishaps and unintentional damage around the home, such as when the dog knocks over the TV, or when red wine is spilled on the carpet.

The home insurance accidental damage cover is available only for the address provided at the time of buying the policy. 

Can an insurer deny a lightning damage insurance claim?

Most Aussie insurance providers include lightning strikes among the incidents covered in their home and contents insurance policies. However, they’ll probably confirm whether you could have prevented the damage caused by the lightning strike before approving your lightning damage insurance claim.

For instance, lightning strikes may cause damage to appliances in your home and affect the working of your fridge or other appliances with a motor or compressor. If you have not purchased fusion damage cover, your lightning damage claim could be denied.

Also, if you live in an area where lightning storms are more likely to occur, but you did not take any steps to protect your home and appliances against potential lightning damage, your insurer may not accept your lightning damage insurance claim. This can include installing equipment to guard against electrical surges or maintaining the trees on your property to prevent damage to buildings from trees or branches felled by lightning. You should check with the insurance provider on the measures you can take to prevent lightning damage, before buying the policy.

How to file a Youi home insurance claim

Dealing with a disaster is never a pleasant experience, but it can be worse if your home is extensively damaged. At some point, you’ll have to estimate the damage to your home and file the necessary insurance claim. 

If you’ve bought a Youi home insurance policy, you can contact them regarding an insurance claim either by calling 13 9684 or through the Youi website. If you don’t remember your policy number, you can identify yourself and provide your address when speaking to a Youi member to grant yourself access to your policy details, handy if you’ve had to leave home in a rush and may not have had the time to collect any of your belongings, let alone insurance policy documents. 

You may not need to fill out any claim forms right away, but you’ll need to describe the incident and the damage caused to your home. Once you’ve contacted Youi, an inspector will visit your home and verify the damage before your claim is accepted and processed. Insurers usually expect you to contact them at your earliest possible convenience after a damaging incident, or within 30 days at the latest, as is the case with Youi

Does homeowners insurance cover structural damage?

The most common causes of structural damage to a property include foundation issues such as settling or ground shifting, hidden structural damage, such as caused by termites, or weather-related damage, like by a tornado or hurricane.

If you’re wondering if structural damage is covered by homeowners insurance, you’re probably not going to like the answer. Most insurance providers don’t include structural damage in home insurance policies because they build the polices to offer protection from loss due to sudden, accidental events, such as fire, burglary or weather-related damage. It can take months or even years for you to discover most foundational or structural damage to your property, and by that time, they become rather costly to repair.

Since it takes a long time to detect, most structural damage is considered a maintenance issue and therefore, your home insurance policy won’t cover it. However, all is not lost. Once you locate the damage and take the necessary steps to not only repair it but also prevent further harm, your insurance policy might cover any subsequent loss. For example, if the foundation has cracks, and it lets water into your home, the water damage could be covered by insurance, but the cracks themselves would not be.

Can you withdraw a home insurance claim?

If your home is damaged, say due to a fire or a storm, your first thought may be to file a claim for the repair costs. 

You may later realise that the claim is too small and not worth the effort of filling in the paperwork and losing any no-claim bonus. Instead, you may think ‘I’d like to withdraw the claim’. 

In this scenario, you can simply tell your insurer that you wish to cancel your claim. Keep in mind when you withdraw the claim, it often continues to remain on the insurer’s records, but with no payout recorded.

You may wish to withdraw your home insurance claim for several reasons. You may realise the damage is minor and the repair cost is close to or less than the excess. The excess is the amount you agreed to pay on top of your insurance payout.

Before making a claim, it’s important to understand it may increase future premiums and also affect your ability to get insurance later. 

So in summary, when asking “can I withdraw my home insurance claim?”, the answer is yes. However, before making a claim, it may be worth looking at if it is worth it.

Does home insurance cover lightning damage?

Lightning strikes are usually among the events included in the home insurance policies offered by various Australian insurers. For instance, if your home gets hit by lightning and there’s a power surge which knocks out your television or other electronic items, your home insurance provider should compensate you after confirming that the damage was caused by the lightning strike, which you could not have prevented. Likewise, if a lightning strike causes a tree branch to break off and harm any of the permanent fixtures on your property, you may be eligible to file a lightning damage insurance claim.

You should check if your insurer requires you to buy additional coverage or take measures to protect against lightning damage. For instance, your claim for lightning damage to a fridge or another appliance with a motor or compressor may be denied if you have not purchased fusion damage cover.