Burst or broken water pipes in a home can cause an unbelievable amount of damage. It can uproot everyone while the excessive moisture must be professionally cleaned to prevent mold growth. Home flooring or carpeting is often extensively damaged as well as furniture, clothing, and other belongings. The expenses for repairs and replacements can be daunting, but proper home insurance that covers the damage can help mitigate these astronomical costs. However, in some cases, homeowners have their claims denied. If you are struggling to obtain the amount of compensation you deserve under your homeowner’s insurance policy due to a burst water pipe, contact the experienced Florida insurance attorneys at Stabinski Law at (305) 643-3100 to help ensure your legal and financial rights remain protected.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Burst Pipes?
Every homeowner’s insurance policy will be different, and it is important to know what your particular insurance policy covers. The following are typical answers; however, it is important to consider visiting with an experienced attorney to ensure you understand all of your legal options and rights.
Unforeseen Burst Pipe Damage Is Typically Covered
In most cases, damage caused by a sudden and accidental broken pipe burst is covered under a homeowners’ insurance policy. Some examples of water damage in a home that are normally covered include the following:
- A water supply line to your fridge’s icemaker or washing suddenly fails with water traveling throughout the floor and home
- A pipe bursts in a kitchen or bathroom unexpectedly
Along with the coverage for water damage to the structure, fixtures and most personal property ruined by the unexpected pipe burst, most policies also cover the cost to have professional cleaners come and thoroughly dry the affected areas to avoid mold growth and prevent additional damage. Every insurance policy is different, so it is important to investigate exactly what will be covered under your specific policy, including what living expenses if you require temporary accommodation elsewhere. Some policies may have major limitations as to what is covered and the maximum amount that an insurance company is responsible to pay. Check your policy or ask your agent what is and what is not covered.
Some Gradual Pipe Leaks Not Covered
In some cases, a plumbing leak is not covered by insurance. Some of the examples of instances where a plumbing leak that causes damage may not be covered by an insurance policy could include the following circumstances:
- A broken pipe that has been continuously leaking for a long period of time
- A known broken pipe that was neglected by the owner
- A broken pipe that is hidden within the walls, ceiling or beneath the floors.
Insurance companies often deny water damage claims, blaming homeowner’s for poor or improper maintenance of plumbing pipes. Sometimes the denials are legitimate and other times they are baseless. Either way, even a tiny hairline crack in a pipe can let in hundreds of gallons of water, therefore, it is a good idea to keep an eye on signs of water leaks like bulging or swelling walls, ceilings, and floors. Documented inspections by licensed plumbers are an important consideration. It is a good idea to keep a checklist of home pipe maintenance, along with other home maintenance and repairs.
What About Outside Water Coming In?
It is important to note that burst pipes are not the same as floods, with respect to homeowner insurance policies.
Homeowner Flood Insurance
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) clarifies that flood insurance is typically separate from general home insurance covering interior burst water pipes. Flood insurance covers flooding from storm drains, heavy rains, hurricanes, and levee floods. Flood insurance typically can be purchased at any time but has a 30-day wait period before it goes into effect.
Burst Pipe Prevention Tips
A small amount of prevention can often prevent burst pipes in a home. Consider the following burst pipe prevention tips.
Pipes Can Freeze in Florida
Although it does not happen often, some Florida winters (mostly Northern Florida) have temperatures that drop below freezing. Proper pipe maintenance means taking needed steps to prevent the cracking and damage to pipes that can occur in freezing weather, making them prone to leaking or bursting.
- Pay attention to weather reports and prepare ahead of the freezing temperatures – especially if you are leaving your home. Consider having someone stay in your home to keep the interior warm, including cooler or damper areas that should be space-heated safely. Be sure to run water often, as running water through pipes will often keep them from freezing up.
- Always check pipes regularly for even minor cracks or other signs of damage, and obtain replacements or repairs when necessary, by a licensed plumber. Be sure to keep all records of purchases and professional inspections for your home insurance company if you need to file a claim.
Summer Storm Flooding Maintenance
Even if you have separate flood insurance with coverage for outdoor water bursts entering your home, keeping all of your property maintained makes overall good sense. A few simple steps to take before storm season can help prevent significant water damage.
- Be sure that storm drains are clear and that sump pumps near basements are not causing problems
- Keep sewers well-maintained to prevent overflowing
- Whatever type of homeowners insurance policy you have or want to choose, be sure to understand it completely. Once a burst pipe, flood, or other damage occurs, it is too late to realize that your particular home insurance policy has what you need to be covered, as indicated by the Chief Financial Officer of Florida.
Speak With An Experienced Attorney Today
If you think your insurance claim for damages from burst water pipes was wrongfully denied, contact Stabinski Law at (305) 643-3100 to schedule your free consultation. With decades of experience, our seasoned legal team has a comprehensive knowledge of homeowners insurance in Florida. Our understanding, knowledgeable team champions the rights of South Florida homeowners by tirelessly fighting for the compensation they deserve.