Common Reasons Insurance Denies a Burst Pipe Insurance Claim
You depend on insurance to be there when you need it. Unfortunately, insurance doesn’t cover all burst pipe insurance claims.
Insurance may deny a burst pipe claim if the damage occurred due to poor maintenance, for example. Insurers also frequently deny burst pipe claims when homeowners fail to heat their homes to an adequate temperature, causing frozen and burst pipes.
Keep reading to discover the nine most common reasons insurance companies deny burst pipe insurance claims.
Your Burst Pipe Was Caused by Wear and Tear or Lack of Maintenance
Home insurance companies, like auto insurance companies, aren’t interested in covering maintenance issues.
Maintenance is the responsibility of the property owner. That’s why you can’t make an auto insurance claim for oil changes, new tires, or other common maintenance issues.
If your burst pipe occurred because of poor maintenance, then your insurer could deny your burst pipe insurance claim. Over the years, wear and tear can reduce the quality of your home’s plumbing, increasing the risk of broken pipes, leaking pipes, or burst pipes.
A rusty pipe is more likely to burst, for example. If your rusty pipe bursts and floods your home, then insurance is unlikely to cover the issue.
Your Water Damage Was Caused by Sewage Backups
During a flood or hurricane, sewage can backup into your home, causing extensive black water damage. Considered Category 3 damage, black water damage is the most serious type of damage because it requires extensive sanitization and remediation.
Unfortunately, a standard insurance policy may not cover sewage backups. If sewage backs up into your home, then you may be unable to make an insurance claim.
Alternatively, if a sewage pipe in your home bursts, insurance should cover that claim, including the cost of repairing black water damage and other damage caused by the burst pipe within your home (assuming there was no maintenance issue causing the failure).
You Failed to Sufficiently Heat Your Home
Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. However, you’re unlikely to experience a burst pipe in your home unless temperatures drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit outside for several hours.
If you fail to heat your home to an adequate temperature, or if you turned off your thermostat before experiencing a burst pipe, then your insurer could deny your claim.
As a homeowner and policyholder, you have a responsibility to maintain safe conditions in your home. Letting your interior home temperature drop to a point where pipes freeze is a violation of that agreement, and an insurer may rightfully deny your claim.
The Burst Pipe Caused Gradual Damage Over an Extended Period
Insurance generally covers burst pipes, but it may not cover leaking pipes – especially if leaking pipe damage occurred over an extended period.
Maintenance is the homeowner’s responsibility, and you are responsible for maintaining your home’s pipes. If you failed to maintain your pipes, and that lack of maintenance led to a leak, then you could be forced to pay for mold remediation, water damage repairs, and other costs out of pocket.
Your Water Damage Was Caused by Sump Pump Failure
If your sump pump fails, leading to water damage, then you cannot make an insurance claim. Home insurance does not cover damage caused by sump pump failure unless you have an endorsement added to your policy.
You’re Dealing with Flood Damage
Similarly, insurance does not cover flood damage. If a hurricane pushes storm waters into your home, causing flooding, then you cannot make an insurance claim.
However, if your burst pipe causes your home to flood, then that’s a different situation. As long as your burst pipe doesn’t fall into any of the other situations listed here, you should be able to make a claim for your burst pipe-related flood damage.
Note: Homeowners living in flood-prone areas may buy insurance through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program. If you don’t have insurance through this program, however, then your insurance will not cover flood-related damage to your property.
Your Water Line Broke
Insurance covers burst pipes, but it does not cover burst water lines. If a water line (the line coming into your home from your municipal water supply) breaks, then insurance is unlikely to cover the cost of repairing this damage.
As Travelers explains, water lines could break because of age, wear and tear, poor installation, ground temperature changes, encroaching tree roots, shifting soil, pests, and other external factors. These causes may be unexpected to you, but they’re preventable and not typically covered by insurance.
However, insurance may cover a water line break if you dig into your yard and accidentally hit a water line, causing it to burst. This is accidental damage, and insurance may cover the cost of repairing this damage.
Insurance may also cover damage related to a water main break. Your municipality is responsible for repairing damage to the water main. However, the homeowner is responsible for repairing or replacing the water line. In this situation, your insurance may cover the cost of repairing and replacing the water line. Contact your local municipality and insurance company to determine who pays.
You Made a Claim for Water Pipe Repairs
Some insurance policies cover water damage caused by the burst pipe – but they don’t cover the cost of repairing or replacing the burst pipe itself.
If the pipe burst suddenly, or accidentally, for example, then your insurance could cover the cost of replacing walls, flooring, and other damaged items. However, you’re responsible for fixing the burst water pipe.
Your Insurance Considers You a “Negligent” Homeowner in Any Other Burst Pipe Situation
If you’re dealing with a denied burst pipe insurance claim, then your insurer may frequently bring up things like “negligence.”
As a homeowner, you are required to meet certain standards in your home. If you fail to meet those standards, then you may be negligent in causing your pipe to burst. Because of your negligence, you are responsible for fixing the burst pipe – not your insurance company.
Steps to Take If Insurance Denies Your Burst Pipe Claim
If insurance has denied your burst pipe insurance claim or they are offering a low settlement, then it’s not the end of the line: by taking certain steps, you can overturn a denied claim and get the compensation you deserve.
Steps to take if insurance denies your burst pipe claim include:
- Ask for a Specific Reason From Your Insurer: Denying a burst pipe insurance claim is a big deal, and insurers should provide a complete, detailed, and written explanation of the denial.
- Check your Insurance Policy: Check your insurance policy to see if the insurer has a valid reason for denying your claim. Your policy may have specific language about frozen pipes and home temperatures, for example. If you failed to keep your home at an adequate temperature to prevent frozen pipes, then you may be out of luck. Check your policy thoroughly.
- Contact a Public Adjuster: Public adjusters are licensed insurance industry professionals. A good public adjuster can analyze your case to determine the best path forward. A public adjuster may find a reason to overturn your denied claim, for example. Many public adjusters know the specific “loopholes” insurers use to deny or reduce claims – and they know how to fight back. Depending on your state, insurance attorneys may play a similar role.
The insurer may have denied your claim, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end.
Instead, you can take the steps above to overturn a denied claim and increase your potential payout.
Contact a public adjuster today to determine the best path forward for your burst pipe insurance claim.