Does homeowners insurance cover maintenance problems?

Homeowners insurance does not cover maintenance issues or damage from general wear and tear.

Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Published September 17, 2020

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Homeowners insurance does not cover general wear and tear or maintenance issues related to your home or personal belongings

  • Maintenance problems such as roof leaks, plumbing backups, and pest infestations typically aren't covered

  • Consider supplemental appliance protection for your policy such as equipment breakdown coverage

Homeowners insurance protects your home, personal belongings, and assets in the event of the unexpected. If your home or belongings are damaged by a covered peril, like a bad storm or fire, homeowners insurance can help pay to replace or fix the damages.

But for losses that aren’t as immediate, like your television breaking down because it’s from the 1950s or your HVAC system going kaput because of pest damage, you likely won’t be covered by homeowners insurance. Damage that can be chalked up to wear and tear or losses viewed as preventable, like routine maintenance issues, are not covered by home insurance.

Many products and appliances, like dishwashers or AC units, come with their own product warranty. If you receive an appliance and it doesn’t work, or if it stops working within a few years, you can likely receive a new one through the product warranty. For extra protection for your appliances you may be able to modify your policy with equipment breakdown coverage, a coverage add-on offered by some insurance companies. However, equipment breakdown coverage only covers losses from electrical or mechanical breakdown and improper installation — it won’t cover loss from general wear and tear or maintenance issues.

IN THIS ARTICLE

What type of maintenance problems aren’t covered by homeowners insurance?

Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover the upkeep or maintenance of your property or personal belongings. There are a few common maintenance issues that homeowners insurance does not cover.

Roof leaks

Homeowners insurance can cover roof damage, however your insurer typically won’t pay to fix your leaky roof. It can be hard to prove what caused your roof to leak, and it may likely be the result of years of wear and tear. Even if you only notice the leak after a big storm, it may still be perceived as neglect by the claims inspector as it’s hard to prove the roof wasn't already damaged throughout the years.

Wear and tear

Homeowners insurance never covers the cost of damage caused by wear and tear — whether it's your old sofa, your leaky roof, or your dishwasher. There are preventable measures to take to keep your furniture and appliances in good condition, like routine deep cleanings.

Pest or termite damage

Termites, bedbugs, and other similar nuisances like carpenter bees, are typically excluded from homeowners insurance coverage because they are a preventable problem that can occur because of neglect.

Plumbing backups

Sudden water damage caused by faulty plumbing or burst pipes generally is covered by homeowners insurance, however plumbing backups or gradual leaks are not covered. For example, if a backed-up sump pump or sewage system caused the damage, or your pipes were rusted and burst, your home insurance claim may be rejected.

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Why homeowners insurance doesn’t cover maintenance problems

Homeowners insurance protects you from damage like lightning strikes, house fires, and theft. But home maintenance issues generally occur over time and can be avoided. For example, if your vacuum dies because you didn’t clean it out enough, homeowners insurance won’t replace your vacuum with a new one.

Insurance companies expect you as a homeowner to be proactive and take care of the general upkeep and maintenance of your home and belongings, which is why mold and certain types of water damage also aren’t covered. Homeowners insurance doesn’t pay for everyday maintenance services either — such as contractors, landscapers, or locksmiths — unless they are hired to repair or rebuild your home after a covered loss, such as a contractor fixing your roof after a house fire.

Consider additional coverage for your appliances

Certain products and appliances may come with an introductory product warranty that guarantees the quality of their product. If you get a new AC unit and it breaks down within a year while you’re still under warranty, the manufacturer may be contractually obligated to replace the product or compensate you.

But once that warranty period expires, you could be left with a gap in coverage if your washing machine or other appliances break down, as electrical and mechanical appliance breakdown generally aren’t covered by homeowners insurance. However, many insurers offer a policy add-on called equipment breakdown coverage to cover this very thing.

Equipment breakdown coverage

Equipment breakdown coverage is an endorsement you can add to your homeowners insurance to protect your appliances from risks not typically covered, like electrical or mechanical breakdown and improper installation.

However, appliance wear and tear and maintenance issues that occur over time are typically excluded by equipment breakdown coverage, meaning you won’t be reimbursed for appliance replacement or repairs.

Equipment breakdown coverage will reimburse you for losses caused by the following:

  • Mechanical breakdown, including rupture or bursting that’s caused by a centrifugal force
  • Accidental breakdown caused by improper installation
  • An artificial electrical current, like electric arcing
  • Pressure systems breakdown

Home warranty

Like equipment breakdown coverage endorsements, a home warranty is designed to cover the gaps in your homeowners insurance policy. Home warranties are basically service contracts that pay for the repairs or replacement of appliances, plumbing, and built-in appliances if they break down.

Although home warranties might sound ideal, they’re known to be confusing and fairly limited in terms of what they actually cover. Additionally, home warranties are pretty expensive and require an annual fee — usually you’re paying around $250-$500 for a standard warranty and closer to $1,000 for an enhanced warranty. Since most new appliances come with their own product warranties, home warranties are often not worth it.

Insurance Editor

Kara McGinley

Insurance Editor

Kara McGinley is an Insurance Editor at Policygenius. She previously worked as a freelance writer and a copywriter for various startups. Her work can be found in Teen Vogue, The Culture Crush, Mask Magazine, and more.

Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.

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