What Is A Sewer Line
Any time you flush a toilet or wash something down a drain, that wastewater will end up in the sewer line. This is an underground, horizontal pipe that connects your home to the municipal sewer system.
Sewer line pipes are designed to last for a long time but theres not invincible. There are many ways a sewer line can get damaged. Over time, they can break down and crack, especially older pipes made out of outdated materials like Orangeburg and cast iron. Sewer lines can also become clogged by a collection of oils, food particles, and solid objects. Finally, tree roots can grow into the pipe, which results in blockages and leaks.
When any of these scenarios happen, the sewer line pipe will either need to be repaired or replaced. No matter the reason, a sewer line issue needs to be dealt with right away. Otherwise, you could have raw sewage seeping into your property or backing up into the home.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Plumbing Breaks Under A Slab
When it comes to the damage and repair costs due to a slab leak, you have a decent chance at having your homeowners insurance cover:
- Water damage caused by the slab leak
- Structural damage to your home from the slab leak
- The cost of tearing out and replacing the slab
- Damage to personal belongings IF the slab leak occurred due to a covered peril such as a fire
However, homeowners insurance typically doesnt cover the cost to repair the broken pipe or to replace it, especially if the pipe failed due to:
- Normal wear and tear
There’s A Difference Between A Slow Leak And A Burst Pipe
Cold weather has caused a pipe to burst in your home, and water has ruined your wood floors. Will homeowners insurance cover pipe replacement? It depends on your policy.
Water damage may be covered under homeowners’ insurance, but it depends largely on the nature of the aquatic mishap. If the damage occurs as a result of something sudden or unforeseenlike a broken pipe, a leaking air conditioning unit, or a malfunctioning washing machinethe policy typically covers it.
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Water Damage Vs Flood Damage: An Important Distinction
Its important to keep in mind that water damage and flood damage are two different things. Distinguishing the two can be confusing, which is why its a good idea to read your insurance policy closely, or seek help from your agent. The primary difference is that with a flood, the water comes from a natural source. So if you live in an area near a large body of water that could potentially overflow, or if your neighborhood is prone to extremely heavy rain, flood insurance may be a good idea.
As The Season Changes And Weather Around Us Continues To Fluctuate It’s Important To Understand The Coverage You Have As A Homeowner Around The Issue Of Water Damage
Stories about weather-related property damage have become more common in recent years. Snowmelt and frozen rain, coupled with frozen ground, has led to widespread overland flooding, seepage, and sewer backups.
Over the past decade, the Insurance Bureau of Canada calculates that extreme weather events caused at least $1 billion in losses. In 2020 alone, the IBC reports that Januarys record-breaking high temperatures in southern Ontario and Quebec already caused more than $95 million in damages.1
When it comes to water damage coverage most home insurance policies provide some coverage to help protect your family and home from water-related damages.
Understanding Insurance Terminology
The key thing to note with water damage under a home insurance policy is that the incidents must be sudden and accidental.
Before we examine the coverage, lets take a minute to review some of those terms in your insurance policy that youve heard but may not understand what they mean.
Common Home Insurance Water Damage Coverage
Weather-related events arent the only possible causes of water damage leaks and burst pipes are also common causes of damage to homes, so its important to know what your policy covers.
Home insurance policies in Canada typically offer water damage coverage caused by sudden and accidental water escape from the following:
Additional Coverage Options
Check with your home insurance provider to see if adding this insurance is an option if you live in a flood prone area.
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Slow Leaks Can Cause Just As Much Damage
As a homeowner, you may be totally unaware of the leak until there is evidence, such as the growth of mold, appearance of rot or a bulging ceiling where water is pooling. Or, you may only learn of the water damage after calling in a repair specialist who discovers it while dealing with a different issue.
At this point, some insurance companies will deny the claim based on the fact that regular home maintenance was not performed, and because it was a slow, ongoing leak .
Other insurance companies may cover the claim only because the slow leak and the damage it caused was hidden in walls, beneath floors or above the ceilingin other words, in areas that are not visible to the eye.
To determine whether you have coverage, check your policys seepage exclusion or call your independent broker for some guidance.
Water And Sewer Lines
We now have protection for the water and sewer lines connected to your home. This coverage is available for homeowner and rented dwelling policies.
In the event you experience a leak, break, tear, rupture or collapse of a water and/or sewer line, youll have $10,000 in coverage to repair or replace your water service and/or sewer line.
To learn more about the Enhanced Water Damage Package, contact your Intact Insurance broker.
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How A Broker Can Help
With so many insurance companies providing insurance to consumers in Canada, it can be confusing and time-consuming to compare different insurance products.
Thats why an independent insurance broker is your best ally. Intact Insurance works with a network of more than 6,000 independent broker offices across Canada.
The brokers we work with are licensed professionals who work for you. They do the legwork to find you the best insurance coverage at the right price for you. Talk to a broker about the protection you need.
Certain conditions, restrictions, and exclusions apply to all offers. Your insurance contract prevails at all times. Please consult it for a complete description of coverage and exclusions.
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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Main And Sewer Breaks
Typical homeowners insurance does not cover repair or replacement of a water main service or sewer line. However sewer and water line insurance coverage may be available through purchase of a rider to the homeowners coverage policy, or through other specialty insurance options that will be discussed below.
With typical homeowners insurance the actual cost of the plumbing job, whether a sewer or water line, is not worth the effort of reporting the claim or attempting to be reimbursed for the cost. Most carriers and brokers will decline the claim outright. In some cases they will request an itemized bill for specific portions of the job such as excavation, material, actual plumbing, backfill, and permits. They will then decide which items are covered and remove the policys deductible. Then after the whole claim process is complete they will usually inform you that no monetary reimbursement will be forthcoming.
Frequently it seems that an insurance broker processing a claim for a water line leak is simply being polite and doing their duty. Typically at the end of the claim process none of the expense is covered.
What Types Of Water Damage Arent Covered
Standard homeowners insurance does not cover water damage caused by floods or sewer overflow, nor does it protect against long-term, gradual leaks. Additionally, losses that result from neglect or maintenance issues wouldnt qualify for reimbursement, which is why proactive home care is essential. Types of water damage that wouldnt be covered under your base policy include:
- Seasonal and flash flooding
- Poorly maintained plumbing and HVAC equipment
- Sump pump overflow or failure
- Prolonged roof leaks
Keep in mind that while only certain causes of water damage are covered under a base policy, you can sometimes purchase coverage for other causes. For example, while most insurance companies dont offer protection for groundwater damage, you can purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program. Some insurers also offer additional riders for water damage related to sump pump failures and water backup situations. Depending on where you live and the features of your home, it may be wise to extend your coverage to protect against these types of non-basic perils.
How To Tell If Your Homeowners Insurance Covers Sewer Line Repair Or Replacement
Theres no simple or one-size-fits-all answer to determine if work on your sewer line will be covered by insurance. To get a better idea for your situation, here are four areas to investigate.
- Insurance provider. Every company has different coverage exceptions for things like normal wear and tear, earthquakes, floods, and acts of God.
- Extra coverage. Look at your policy documents to see if you signed up for optional coverage that may apply. For example, some homeowners add flood or earthquake insurance if their home is at a higher risk for those episodes.
- Cause of the pipe damage. The reason why the sewer line is damaged can determine whether the work will be covered or not. For example, if the pipe was 40 years old and it leaked from normal wear and tear, that will probably not be covered by insurance. But if the damage was caused by something out of your control like vandalism, faulty work, or a specific event that you have coverage for, then your odds are much better.
- Your deductible limit. Sewer line repairs and replacements are majors jobs. But depending on your policys deductible, you may not meet the out-of-pocket expenses limit before the coverage kick in.
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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Line Breaks
Most homeowners insurance policies will not cover water line breaks unless a line has undergone sudden, significant damage. For example, if you dig in your yard and accidentally damage the water line running from your meter, repairs and cleanup may be covered. However, if a water line breaks on your property due to age, regular wear and tear, poor initial installation, frequent ground temperature changes, shifting soil, or damage from pests or encroaching tree roots, the break and resulting water damage isnt likely to fall under your regular coverage.
If a water main breaks, your city or town is responsible for fixing the break, but you often will be responsible for repair or replacement of the water main supply line connected to your house. If your home is damaged from a public water main break, contact your municipality as well as your insurance company.
Does Home Insurance Cover Damage Caused By Water Backup
Water backup, or water that backs up in drains or sewers that overflows through a sump pump in your home, is an area of water damage that many homeowners don’t think about until it’s too late. While water backup is not covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy, water backup coverage has become an increasingly popular endorsement homeowners can choose to add onto their policy.
You can add a water backup endorsement onto your homeowners insurance policy up to a specific limit, and we encourage homeowners to look into this additional coverage if your ground-floor floods due to a sudden water backup, you’ll want to be covered!
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Is Water Damage From Flood Covered By Insurance
Flood damage is a special case when it comes to homeowners insurance water damage coverage. While unexpected, it’s listed as an exception in homeowners policies. Those interested in this type of coverage will have to purchase a special flood insurance policy. This may even be required for homeowners that live in areas prone to flooding. You might sometimes see this referred to as hurricane insurance, though there actually isn’t such a thing as a hurricane insurance policy.
What Type Of Water Damage Is Not Covered By Homeowners Insurance
Here are some common problems that are typically not covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy:
- Water damage due to lack of maintenance or negligence, such as not repairing a plumbing problem or failing to keep the heat on during freezing temperatures.
- Water damage from intentional acts, like setting a fire to your home or purposely turning off the heat during the winter.
- Water damage from earth movement like an earthquake, landslide or mudslide. For example, if your pipe burst because of an earthquake, the water damage most likely wont be covered. If you want coverage for earthquake damage, youll need to buy a separate earthquake insurance policy.
- Water damage due to floods, hurricanes and tsunamis. Flood damage and tsunami damage are excluded from standard home insurance policies. If you want coverage for floods, youll need to buy a separate flood insurance policy.
- Water damage that backs up through a sewer or drain.
- Water damage from leaks from a swimming pool or other structures.
- Water damage from seepage or leaks through a foundation.
- The cost to repair or replace the source of the water damage, like fixing a broken dishwasher or washing machine.
- Water damage from a sump pump failure or related equipment. You may want to consider sump and water backup coverage for those types of problems.
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Our insurance team is composed of agents, data analysts, and customers like you. They focus on the points consumers care about most price, customer service, policy features and savings opportunities so you can feel confident about which provider is right for you.
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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage From Broken Pipe
Again, it depends on how the pipe broke. If its sudden and accidental, youd usually be OK. If frozen temperatures have caused your pipes to break you might be covered, but if the pipes break because of poor maintenance and wear and tear, youll likely have to pay out of pocket.
Maintenance in your home is a large part of your job as a property owner and your insurance company will view it the same. And that means being on the lookout for mold, mildew, or other signs of water damage that suggest a small crack, fracture, or leak.
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How Do I File A Claim For Water Damage
If a severe storm sweeps through or a sink overflows, don’t fret. Filing a claim for water damage is very similar to filing other insurance claims.
First, call your insurer as soon as possible. Many companies have a deadline or window after something is damaged to file a claim. Call your insurer’s claims number, which you can find on your policy, to have your water damage claim recorded on file.
After you’ve filed a claim, take inventory and make a carefully detailed list of any damaged property. If possible, record or photograph any of the damage. Though it may be tempting, don’t throw anything away until the insurance adjuster has seen the extent of the damage.
Make only temporary repairs if needed before your insurance adjuster comes. For example, put cardboard over a broken window or a bucket below a leaking roof. Be sure not to make any permanent repairs until after your insurer has had a chance to review the damage.
Be present and prepared during your insurance adjuster’s tour of the damage. Have your itemized list of damages handy, as well as any receipts for items needing to be replaced or bought for temporary repairs.
After damage is repaired, have an inspector certify the damage is fixed. Especially if a broken or faulty appliance was at fault for the water damage, get ahead of any more possible damage and ensure your repair has been done accurately.
Water Leaking Prevention Tips
When it comes down to it, its best to prevent water damage from occurring in the first place. Here are a few ways you can protect your home from water damage:
Smart water leak sensors. Early detection systems like smart water leak detectors help detect and alert you of any water leaks, so you can take care of the problem before it causes too much damage.
Fix issues promptly. Ignoring any moisture damage or putting off the repairs can cause mold, mildew, rot or structural damage to your home. Remember that your home insurance helps cover sudden and accidental water damage, but damage thats a result of a lack of maintenance may not be covered by your policy.
Furnace and air conditioning maintenance. One of the most common sources of water leakage that causes hidden damage comes from your furnace and air conditioner. Make sure to have your furnace and air conditioning unit inspected on a yearly basis to ensure all the drains are clear and functioning properly.
When it comes to having confidence in your coverage, were here to guide you. Learn more about your home insurance coverage options or get a quick home insurance estimate here to gain peace of mind youre protecting what matters most.
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