So, you’ve got a broken sewer pipe. You may be wondering how this happened, or what you’re going to have to do to be able to pay for it. Will the damage be covered by homeowner’s insurance, or am I on my own?
There’s no clear answer to this question, as what’s covered under one policy may not be under another. Some generalizations can be made, however. In most cases, claims adjusters inspecting your sewer line will verify or deny insurance claims based on negligence.
What Your Homeowner’s Insurance Will Cover
Typically, homeowner’s insurance will cover sewer pipe breaks (and damage to other major plumbing lines) in full, given that the damage occurred suddenly due to extraneous circumstances, and not in any way related to negligence. This applies for damages due to earthquakes or tremors, sudden intrusion by plants or faulty installation.
In the event of sewer line failure, claims adjusters will evaluate a number of factors to determine the cause of damage (and how or if it relates to homeowner negligence). This includes:
- Ongoing weathering conditions
- Indications of poor maintenance
- Corrosion and natural rust over time
- Sewer pipe age and location on your property
- What point in your pipe that damage occurs
For example, if you’ve recently had your home’s sewer lines replaced or repaired, and face damages related to this work due to an installation error, homeowner’s insurance will usually cover the ensuing repair costs; in these cases, you’re covered because there was nothing you could have done to prevent the breakage.
This also applies to damages caused by sudden ground or environmental activity, including storms and flooding. The key takeaway for homeowner’s insurance and your damaged pipe is that, if the break was completely out of your control, you’ll typically be covered. If, however, your sewer pipes have begun to fail due to old age, poor ongoing maintenance or any other factor that could be considered a form of homeowner negligence, it’s much less likely that you’ll receive coverage.
Things Not Protected Under Homeowner’s Insurance
Whether your broken or failing sewer pipe is covered under homeowner’s insurance is almost entirely dependent on what claims adjusters determine to be the cause of the problem. Adjusters will look for any indicators they can find on the party responsible for the damage. If it’s determined that poor homeowner care is directly linked with the break, it becomes far less likely that you’ll receive full coverage as part of your homeowner’s insurance.
Sewer lines transport water waste away from all fixtures in your home, from your garbage disposal to your shower drain; excessive materials or chemical products (basically, anything that shouldn’t be sent through your sewer line) resulting in sewer pipe damage would put the fault on your shoulders, and thus the damage would not be covered by homeowner’s insurance.
It should also be noted that not all homeowner’s insurance policies are the same; some things will be covered in full under Policy A that may be excluded under Policy B. What is covered in terms of home plumbing depends on the specifics in your policy. In the event of sewer pipe damage, read up on your policy before contacting your insurance agency to pursue a coverage claim.
Quick Tips for Long-Term Sewer Care
To help you out in the future, we’ve compiled a list of helpful tips you should keep in mind to get the most mileage out of your home sewer line, and avoid liability if worst comes to worst.
- Stay proactive with preventative, not reactive maintenance
- Take note of any sewer line irregularities, including odors, strange sounds or surface moisture
- Get a detailed, full copy of your homeowner’s insurance policy, and keep it on hand when you notice repeat plumbing issues
- Have a professional plumbing technician inspect your plumbing at least once annually, and consider a video sewer inspection to catch damages early on
- Call a plumber right away when you notice any problems with your pipe and sewer lines; putting off the problem will often only make matters worse