Cold temperatures often have unpleasant side effects, such as a slippery commute and high heating costs. And if you're a homeowner, frozen pipes in the winter can send shivers down your spine. If a pipe bursts, you not only have to worry about replacing the pipe, but it can also result in costly damage caused by water flowing into your home.
CNBC Select explains who pays for burst pipe damage and what you should do if a pipe bursts in your home.
Dealing with damage caused by a burst pipe
If a frozen pipe bursts in your home, you need to act quickly. According to insurance company Nationwide, the first thing you should do is close the main water valve to stop the flow of water and minimize damage. If you don't know how to do this, call the plumber – at some point you'll need to call in a professional anyway to make the necessary repairs quickly and correctly. Retain the failed component of the pipe for insurance purposes.
If it is safe to do so, clean the water and remove or protect your belongings. Take photos of the damage and make a list of items that need to be repaired or replaced, including brand, price and other details.
Now you can contact your home insurance company online or by phone. Nationwide, one of our top home insurance providers, has a water damage page with instructions for policyholders and a link to make a property damage claim.
Nationwide household contents insurance
The best way to estimate your costs is to request a quote
The policy covers home and property damage caused by theft, fire and weather damage. In addition, personal liability, loss of use and unauthorized transactions with your credit card are covered
Water Damage, Earthquake, Flood Insurance, Identity Theft, High Value Items, Home Rebuilding After a Loss (these can all be purchased as add-ons for additional protection)
View our methodology, terms apply.
Lemonade is another insurer known for its quick claim approvals. You can file a claim directly in the Lemonade app, which will guide you through the process. You may receive payment almost immediately for a simple claim – but more complex scenarios may require more in-depth review.
Lemonade Homeowners Insurance
Starts at $25/month; may vary depending on state, age of home and other factors
The policy covers damage to your home and property caused by wildfires, extreme weather conditions, crime and vandalism. Liability claims for damage that you accidentally cause to others are also covered
power, water or heating failures or insect infestations; Some events may be non-refundable depending on the circumstances – see more information here
View our methodology, terms apply.
According to HomeAdvisor, a digital platform that connects homeowners and contractors, the typical burst pipe repair should cost about $500 — or anywhere between $200 and $3,000.
The damage from a burst pipe, on the other hand, can be extensive and include water damage to your furniture and possessions, structural damage, and even mold growth. Fortunately, home contents insurance usually covers a large proportion of this damage. To ensure you have the best possible protection, check your insurance policy for the following types of coverage:
- Apartment insurance, the core part of your policy, can help you cover alterations or repairs to the physical structure of your property. Water damage from burst pipes can cause significant damage to your home, damaging the foundation, walls, and flooring. For this reason, this type of coverage provides critical protection.
- Property insurance protects your belongings, from furniture to clothing to electronics. Check whether the actual cash value (ACV) or the replacement value (RCV) is being paid. With ACV you will receive a refund for the item taking into account its depreciation. With RCV, the insurance company covers the cost of replacing the item with a new version without taking into account the depreciation.
- Loss of use protection pays if your apartment becomes uninhabitable due to an insured event and you incur additional housing and living costs. For example, if you are forced to stay in a hotel due to a burst pipe in your home, this type of coverage may be able to fund your stay.
A typical home insurance policy does not cover the cost of repairing or replacing the burst pipe itself. Overall, as the Allstate website explains, the cause of the water damage itself is usually not covered. The same would apply, for example, if your dishwasher broke and turned your kitchen into a flood zone – the insurance would cover the damaged floor, but not the replacement of your dishwasher.
Next, your insurer may also deny your claim if they determine that the damage was due to your negligence. If you leave your house for a few days and don't turn on the heat in freezing weather, you might assume that the burst pipe was your fault. The same thing could happen if it turns out that your pipes have not been properly maintained.
Please see your policy for the full list of exclusions and the circumstances in which they may apply.
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Water damage from a burst frozen pipe can lead to costly repairs. Luckily, your home insurance should be able to help you cover the costs. After cleaning the water, take stock of the damage and contact your insurer. He will explain what coverage applies and guide you through the next steps.
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Editorial note: The opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial team alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.