Water damage caused by frozen pipes can be one of the most damaging problems a homeowner or business owner can face. When a pipe bursts, damage can happen very quickly and will continue to worsen until the problem is isolated. Damage from burst frozen pipes can allow water to flow into the ceilings and walls of a structure. Unfortunately, it might not be detected as quickly as other water problems and therefore, the damage has a chance to spread.
The good news is that most home insurance companies will cover damage resulting from a frozen pipe provided you can prove that you took measures to prevent the pipe from freezing. For example, many policies say that coverage applies if you can show that you either 1) shut off the water supply and drained your system, or 2) maintained heat to your home during a period when the house is unoccupied.
If a small crack in a water pipe caused slow leakage, the resulting damage may not be covered. This could be considered a maintenance issue instead. Water losses that occur due to lack of maintenance are not covered on a standard homeowner’s policy.
Coverage for burst pipes includes:
- The cost to access the broken pipe such as tearing out a wall.
- Necessary repairs or replacement for any damaged property such as drying out flooded carpets or replacing destroyed furniture or electronics.
- The cost to repair and restore the wall once the pipe has been fixed.
- If the damage is so extensive that you can’t stay in the home, your insurance company generally will pay for additional living expenses.
Note: Normally, the actual cost to repair the section of broken or frozen pipe is not covered, but this is generally a small part of the total cost of the claim.
Our best advice is to avoid a loss with good maintenance. See our tips for Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes.
If you have a water loss, contact a water mitigation company such as Servicemaster as soon as possible. These experts have the knowledge and equipment to dry out your home before mold and mildew set in.