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Does home insurance cover plumbing problems?

Vidhu Bajaj avatar
Vidhu Bajaj
- 5 min read
Does home insurance cover plumbing problems?

Key highlights

  • Home insurance may cover plumbing issues such as leaky roofs, burst pipes, damage due to leaks, and accidental damage to fixtures.
  • However, gradual wear and tear, maintenance issues, and flood damage may not be covered by insurance.
  • DIY plumbing work can void your insurance coverage, so it's important to check your policy and consult professionals for major repairs.
  • Standard home insurance might not cover plumbing problems that could have been prevented with maintenance, or damage caused by negligence. However, if you have a surprise leak at home, or a burst tap or an overflowing toilet, you still might be able to claim on your insurance if the damage was sudden and accidental.

    What kind of plumbing issues are covered by insurance?

    Some of the plumbing issues a home insurance policy may cover include:

    Leaky roof

    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. However, if your roof is leaking due to poor maintenance, you might have to pay for the damage out of your own pocket.

    Burst pipes

    You could potentially make a claim on your home insurance policy for damage to your property caused by burst pipes, if the issue affecting the pipe was unforeseen or accidental. For instance, if a pipe bursts due to freezing temperatures or other unexpected events, the resulting water damage might be eligible for coverage. However, if the pipe had already been leaking or damaged for some time, your insurer might not clear your claim as it may decide that the damage to your property was preventable.

    Damage due to leaks

    While gradual damage due to water leakage may not be covered, some home insurance policies may help cover the repair costs for water damage caused by hidden leaks, such as those behind walls or under floors.

    Water overflow

    If your bathtub or sink overflows accidentally and causes damage to your property, some home insurance policies might offer coverage for the resulting damage. But you’ll need to consult your insurer or read the details in your specific policy to find out what exactly you’re covered for.

    Accidental damage

    Any accidental damage to plumbing fixtures, like a toilet or sink, might be covered by some home insurance policies. For instance, if a heavy object accidentally damages a fixture, your policy could assist with repair or replacement costs.

    What kind of plumbing issues are not covered by insurance?

    Some of the common exceptions in home insurance policies around household plumbing may include:

    Gradual wear and tear

    Most insurance policies don't cover gradual damage from a slow leak due to wear and tear, such as leaky showers or taps. Regularly inspecting your plumbing and making prompt repairs can help you prevent the kind of slow damage that insurance might not cover.

    Maintenance issues

    If your plumbing issues are a result of poor maintenance, neglect, or failure to address a problem that was known to you, your insurance may not provide coverage.

    Flood damage

    Some home insurance policies may not cover damage caused by flooding as standard, though it may be available as an optional extra. If you live in a flood-prone area, it's worth checking your insurer’s coverage, and opting to add flood cover if you're worried about flood damage to your property.

    Does DIY plumbing affect your home insurance?

    If you want to attempt Do It Yourself (DIY) plumbing at home, make sure you read the relevant laws in your state or territory. You typically need to be a licensed plumber to complete any work involving plumbing or drainage. But you may be able to do minor plumbing tasks independently, such as changing a tap washer or replacing a showerhead. Still, unless you have the necessary experience, it might be better to leave any plumbing work to the experts.

    If you attempt plumbing work yourself and it leads to any kind of damage to your property, your insurance company may refuse to pay out any claim you make. In fact, some insurers might specifically exclude damage caused by DIY plumbing altogether. Make sure to check your policy before attempting any DIY work on your plumbing.

    How to claim insurance if there's damage due to plumbing issues

    When you find any damage to your property due to a plumbing issue, make sure you take pictures and/or videos of the damaged areas to document your claim. This 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 from another professional not affiliated with your insurer. 

    If the cause of the damage is confirmed to be accidental, your homeowner's insurance provider may reimburse you for the necessary plumbing repairs or request a preferred builder to make the fixes. Your insurer may let you hire a builder of your choice if your policy allows it. However, you may need to wait to get the repairs made until the insurer has completed the assessment.

    If you're concerned about the potential damage that plumbing issues could cause in your home, consider reading the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) closely before purchasing any insurance policy, paying close attention to any water damage clauses. Alternatively, you can speak to the insurer for more details.

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    Product database updated 22 Jun, 2024

    This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Peter Terlato before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.