Pipe breaks can happen in an instant. A clog in your pipe becomes a complete block and as water pushes against it, your pipe bursts, resulting in significant water damage to your home. After turning off the water and drying out your home, you discover your ruined carpets. Who’s paying for this? Does your homeowners insurance cover broken pipes in Florida? The answer varies from policy to policy.

Many Florida insurance policies cover water damage. However, in many cases, it comes down to how the damage occurred. Most policies will cover a pipe break if it’s unforeseen, such as a burst pipe, an air conditioner that suddenly releases all its water, or an accident with your washing machine.

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The Cliff Notes: Key Takeaways From This Post

  • 1
    Insurance companies tend to regard the slow, leaky damages from pipe breaks as something homeowners should have taken care of before it became a serious issue.
  • 2
    Most insurance policies cover resulting damage from unexpected events- such as gushing water that follows broken or burst pipes- but not initial damage.
  • 3
    To prevent a denied claim, homeowners should keep records of plumbing inspections and repairs and make sure all pipes are in good working order.
  • 4
    If the insurance company denies a claim for valid damage, consumers can get a second opinion from an organization or lawyer experienced with insurance rules in their area.

Pipe Breaks Cause Different Types of Water Damage

There are two types of water damage that can result from pipe breaks. There is sudden and unexpected damage, such as a burst pipe behind a wall in your bathroom or a slow, leaky pipe under your sink. In most cases, your Florida homeowners insurance policy will cover the sudden and unexpected damage but not the slow, leaky kind.

Insurance providers in Florida tend to view the slow, leaky kind of damage as something you should have taken care of long before it became a serious issue. This is why it can be tricky to determine if homeowners insurance covers pipes and plumbing at all.

Here’s another way to look at it. Your HVAC system is one of the most expensive appliances in your home, and you expect it to last around 20 years. When the time comes to replace it, you wouldn’t file a property insurance claim, because it’s part of the cost of owning and maintaining a home.

Now, let’s say, you replaced your HVAC system two years ago, and a huge hail storm batters it into little pieces. Under these circumstances, you’d expect your insurance to cover the costs of replacement, and they would.

Problems and damages that are caused by normal wear and tear and/or gradual damage are more than likely aren’t covered by insurance. Of course, if you have exacerbated the damage due to “resulting damage” from an unexpected event, then insurance would cover it.

For example, your water tank gets a crack and breaks open, your washing machine opens up, or a pipe bursts, spilling water over the floor that already had minimal damage, then insurance would cover it.

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How Many Insurance Companies Regard Pipe Breaks

Most insurance companies regard your home’s plumbing as general maintenance and your responsibility. As the property owner, it’s your job to tighten screws, allow water to drip on cold nights to avoid frozen pipes, and remove any clogs as soon as possible. You do these things to keep the pipes in good condition and maintain your property value.

You also need to make sure that you’re getting rid of mold and mildew, which can be a sign of a small crack in your pipes. If you suspect, you have a hairline fracture, the insurance company holds you responsible for fixing the issue.

The hairline cracks and leaks cause damage over a period of time. Insurance companies consider this gradual damage as something avoidable, and they normally won’t cover the damages. However, there’s a big difference between a slow leak and a burst pipe.

We’ve all heard the story about a friend of a friend who comes home from vacation to find the lower floor of their home has become a swimming pool due to a burst pipe. It’s one of the most frightening urban legends for a homeowner, but on the positive side, your insurance company will more than likely cover the cost of the damages.

Gushing water that’s almost impossible to control follows broken or burst pipes. It’s also going to create significant damage very quickly. Homeowners insurance typically covers the destruction and damage caused by gushing water. The clause in your policy that covers this damage is the all-perils section. You can look for it in your own insurance policy paperwork.

In order for the insurance to cover a claim, the damage must occur suddenly and by accident. It won’t be covered if the damage was easily preventable by you or regular maintenance.

As an example, imagine you live in a colder section of the country, and your electricity is out due to non-payment. In subfreezing temperatures, your pipes freeze and burst. If you’d had electricity, this might not have happened. Your insurance company is going to consider this negligence and won’t pay the claim.

Even though insurance policies usually exclude wear and tear, the policies usually cover damage that results from the wear and tear. What this looks like in real life is that the insurance company might be able to avoid paying to fix the pipe that supplies water to your sink when it wears out, but has to pay for all the water damage that resulted when the worn-out pipe causes your house to flood (or in insurance language, caused an “ensuing loss”).