Burst Frozen Pipes: Will Your Insurance Cover It?

Frozen pipes and the flooding and water damage that follows ranks up with a leaky roof or foundational problem on the list of events most homeowners fear. In some cases, burst pipes might be preventable — but in others, not so much. In 2021, below-freezing temperatures in Texas caused an unprecedented 325 million gallons of water to flood the city’s water system when frozen and burst pipes thawed out and the leaks began.

Even with weatherized pipes and appropriate precautions, your plumbing could freeze, leaving you with damaged pipes and quite possibly a flood basement. But if that happens through no fault of your own, will your insurance still pay for it?

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Frozen Pipes?

The good news first: typically, homeowners insurance will cover accidental water damage to your house. The damage to the actual pipes and plumbing system, on the other hand, is not likely to be covered.

Your typical homeowners insurance policy will provide coverage for your carpets, drywall, flooring, furniture, and other belongings when it comes to water damage. It will also cover costs to rebuild your walls and other structure around the pipe, as well as restoration work and preventative measures against mold. What it won’t cover is the plumbing itself. A typical homeowners insurance policy also won’t cover water damage that happens as a result of backed up pipes or drain seepage.

Why? A few reasons. First, a burst pipe is generally considered to be a necessary part of home maintenance, for which the homeowner is responsible. Claims for burst pipes are also frequently denied for reasons of negligence — if no precautionary measures were taken to keep the pipes from freezing, then the insurance company is not obligated to honor the claim. Normal wear and tear on pipes are also a common reason for claims to be denied, as this also falls under general maintenance.

Finally, there’s one more reason why your homeowners insurance doesn’t cover this kind of damage: because there’s another kind of insurance that does.

Flood Insurance

Another water-related mishap that isn’t covered by your average homeowners policy is flood damage. The reasons for this are manifold, but the short version is that insurance companies regard flood damage as “gradual” because the flood waters touch the ground outside before they get to your house. Though this may seem like a strange rule, it’s just the way it is for most homeowners insurance policies.

But what you can do is take out dedicated flood insurance, or as an endorsement / add-on to your existing insurance. This means extra cost out of pocket, so when choosing your homeowners insurance, you should be aware of the finer details of what your policy covers — one reason why insurance analysts like Ava Lynch recommend comparing homeowners insurance quotes to make sure you’re getting the best value for your money.

If Your Claim is Denied

Because they’re a business that needs to make a profit, insurance companies can sometimes make it challenging to successfully file a claim. Sometimes this is the result of new management or policies. Regardless, it can make your life harder. One step you can take to make sure you get the compensation you’re owed is to contact a public adjuster. There are in-house adjusters who work for (and represent) the company, but a public adjuster is the one you want — they represent homeowners. It’s a public adjuster’s job to make sure your claim is settled in a timely fashion and is not denied (if the claim is reasonable).

What You Can Do to Avoid Frozen Pipes

Of course, one of the best ways to prevent insurance claim headaches is to minimize the chances of having to file one in the first place. Whether or not you have flood insurance (or an endorsement on your homeowners policy), it pays to take steps to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting. Here are some of the steps you can take:

  • Keep the heat in your home on, preferably at 65 or above. This isn’t a cure-all, but it helps.
  • If you plan to be gone for several days during cold weather, ask a neighbor or friend to check on your house occasionally to keep an eye out for frozen pipes. You can also shut off the water and drain the pipes, which will go a long way toward preventing issues.
  • Winterize your home as much as you can. This is an already money-saving venture that will help lower the chances of burst pipes.
  • Install an alarm system that will alert you if the power in your home is lost or the heating system has failed.
  • If you have pipes in an area without heat, you can put in a space heater during cold snaps, or wrap your pipes with heat tape.
Sandra Johnson

Sandra Johnson

Sandra Johnson was a few years out of school and took a job as a life insurance agent in California, selling coverage door-to-door for Prudential. The experience taught her about the technical components of insurance and its benefits for individuals and society, as well as the misunderstandings people often have about insurance. She has over ten years’ experience in the insurance industry, having worked as both a Broker and Underwriter, assisting clients across a broad range of industries. At Insurance Noon, Sarah diligently gathers all the required information and curates up pieces to provide meaningful insurance solutions. Her personal value proposition is to demonstrate a genuine interest in always adding value for clients.Her determined approach to guiding clients has turned her into a platinum adviser to multiple insurers.