Does homeowners insurance cover clogged pipes?

No, homeowners insurance generally doesn’t cover maintenance issues like clogged pipes, but you may be able to add water backup coverage to your policy to cover damage from sewage backup, drainage backup, and sump pump overflow.

Kara McGinley

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Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is a senior editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

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Britta M. Moss

Britta M. Moss

Property & casualty claim consultant and expert witness

Britta M. Moss, CPCU, SCLA, AIC-M, has over 25 years of insurance industry experience. In her work as a property and casualty claim consultant, she provides consultation and expert witness services in claim handling standards, practices, and norms.  She has been retained by law firms representing plaintiffs and those representing insurer defendants involved in disputes or litigation regarding coverage analysis, investigation, liability determination, damage evaluation, negotiation and settlement.  She is a graduate of The Ohio State University. 

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Homeowners insurance will cover your pipes and plumbing, but typically only for damage that is considered sudden and accidental, like if your pipes abruptly burst. Homeowners insurance does not cover maintenance issues because insurance companies generally consider it your responsibility as the homeowner to take care of the upkeep of your property.

That means if your pipes clog because they are old or rusted, or because you’ve neglected their maintenance, your homeowners insurance company may reject your claim.

Key takeaways

  • Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover clogged pipes or any other maintenance issues that would be considered preventable damage.

  • Homeowners insurance also won’t cover your pipes if they clog because they are old, rusted, or clogged with mold.

  • You should consider adding sewer backup or sump pump coverage to your policy to protect your home and plumbing from water backup damage.

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When does homeowners insurance cover clogged pipes?

Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover maintenance issues like clogged pipes. Your pipes don’t just suddenly clog overnight, it generally happens over time and is therefore preventable. Your insurance company likely also won’t pay for the cost of a plumber to fix clogged pipes either.

However, if your pipes burst and cause sudden water damage to your home or personal property (and you can prove it’s not due to a maintenance issue) you may be able to file a claim. Typically, resulting water damage to your home (if sudden or accidental) is covered — regardless of the cause of the pipe burst. But the pipe itself is not covered if it's a maintenance issue. If the water damage is severe enough to make your home uninhabitable, you may be able to file a loss-of-use claim and your homeowners insurance can help pay for you to live elsewhere while your home is being repaired.

Why doesn’t homeowners insurance cover clogged pipes?

Homeowners insurance covers perils that are sudden and accidental, like house fires, windstorms, falling trees or break-ins. Homeowners insurance generally doesn’t cover preventable damage or wear and tear. Pipes typically clog because you’re not properly cleaning or maintaining them. It’s also relatively easy to clear clogged pipes, it wouldn’t be worth it for you to file a claim to pay for Drano or a drain snake.

Even if your pipes are clogged due to rust, mold, or pest infestations, your homeowners insurance likely still won’t cover it as those are all considered maintenance issues.

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How to add coverage to protect your pipes

Depending on your insurance company, you may be able to add water backup coverage for extra protection for your pipes and plumbing. 

Water backup coverage

If there is a sewage backup and your pipes clog and leak, you are responsible for paying for the damages. You can add a sewage or water backup endorsement to your homeowners policy to protect yourself from water damage caused by sewer or drain backups. Water backup coverage also covers sump pump backups.

How to prevent clogged pipes

Clogged pipes are a common reality for homeowners. You can generally buy products to fix clogged pipes on your own, like a liquid solution or a drain snake. There are also a few measures you can take to avoid clogged pipes and drains.

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  • Replace your plumbing if your pipes are old or rusting

  • Use drain stoppers or protectors to stop food or hair from going down drains

  • Put leftover food in the trash or compost, not down the sink

  • Do not put grease or oil down the drain

  • Clean your drains by pouring hot water down them

  • Only flush toilet paper down the toilet

Author

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

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Kara McGinley is a senior editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

Expert reviewer

Property & casualty claim consultant and expert witness

Britta M. Moss

Property & casualty claim consultant and expert witness

gray linkedin icon link

Britta M. Moss, CPCU, SCLA, AIC-M, has over 25 years of insurance industry experience. In her work as a property and casualty claim consultant, she provides consultation and expert witness services in claim handling standards, practices, and norms.  She has been retained by law firms representing plaintiffs and those representing insurer defendants involved in disputes or litigation regarding coverage analysis, investigation, liability determination, damage evaluation, negotiation and settlement.  She is a graduate of The Ohio State University. 

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