Q

Does homeowners insurance cover maintenance issues?

A

No, homeowners insurance does not cover maintenance issues or damage from general wear and tear.

Kara McGinley

By 

Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is an 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.

Updated March 22, 2022 | 4 min read

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Damage to your home, appliances, and other belongings that can be chalked up to general wear and tear, preventable hazards, or routine maintenance issues is not covered by homeowners insurance. This includes most losses that aren’t immediate — like if your HVAC system goes kaput because of pest damage or your sewer line backs up due to years of rinsing oil and grease down your drains.

Key takeaways

  • Home maintenance issues such as roof leaks, plumbing backups, appliances dying, mold, and pest infestations typically aren't covered by your home insurance policy.

  • If you’re worried about these issues, consider adding equipment breakdown coverage or water backup coverage to your policy.

  • Home warranties generally aren’t worth the high cost, since most appliances are already covered by a basic product warranty.

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

Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover the upkeep or maintenance of your property or personal belongings. Here are a few common home 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 leaking roof. 

Why? Because it can be hard to prove your roof leak was caused by a covered peril and not just years of wear and tear. Even if you only notice the leak after a big storm, it may still be viewed as neglect by your insurance claims inspector, meaning it wouldn’t be covered.

Wear and tear

Homeowners insurance never covers the cost of damage caused by wear and tear — whether it's your old sofa, a roof leak, or your dishwasher. 

Why? Because there are preventable measures to take to keep your furniture, roof, and appliances in good condition,  including routine deep-cleanings and regular maintenance checks.  

Termite, pest, and rodent damage

Termites, bed bugs, rats, carpenter bees, and other similar pests are typically excluded from homeowners insurance coverage.

Why? Because they’re viewed as preventable problems that occur due to neglect. To avoid infestations, schedule annual pest control checkups and routinely inspect your home's roof, walls, and ceiling for signs of damage. 

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 causes damage to your bathroom or your pipes rusted and burst, your home insurance claim may be rejected.

Why? Because again, sewer line backups and rusted-over pipes are viewed as preventable hazards due to neglect by the homeowner. To prevent such issues, regularly have your septic tank pumped, replace rusted plumbing, and avoid putting grease, oil, and other items known to clog drains down your sink or toilet.

Mold

Mold that’s caused by sudden and accidental water damage — like a burst pipe — would likely be covered by your homeowners insurance policy. However, home insurance does not cover mold that forms over time due to high humidity, plumbing leaks, or gradual flooding.

Why? Because any mold that forms over time is generally seen as a preventable hazard — and on the onus of the homeowner to fix.

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Why homeowners insurance doesn’t cover maintenance problems

Insurance companies expect you as a homeowner to be proactive and take care of the general upkeep and maintenance of your home and belongings. Homeowners insurance also doesn’t pay for everyday maintenance services — such as plumbers, landscapers, and exterminators — unless they’re hired to repair or rebuild your home after a covered loss.

Additional coverages to consider

Certain products, household systems, and appliances may come with an introductory product warranty that guarantees the quality of the product for a certain number of years. 

For example, 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 for it.

But once that warranty period expires, you could be left with a gap in coverage if your washing machine or other appliances break down. That’s where equipment breakdown coverage, home warranties, and water backup coverage come into play.

Equipment breakdown coverage

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

Here’s what’s typically covered — and not covered — with equipment breakdown protection:

What’s covered by equipment breakdown coverage

  • Mechanical breakdown, including rupture or bursting that’s caused by a centrifugal force

  • Accidental breakdown caused by improper installation

  • Artificial electrical currents, like electric arcing

  • Pressure systems breakdown

What’s NOT covered by equipment breakdown coverage

  • General wear and tear

  • Maintenance issues that occur over time

→ Learn more about equipment breakdown coverage

Home warranty

Home warranties are essentially 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 very expensive and limited in what they’ll actually cover — with rates running an average of $900 per year (on top of your regular home insurance policy). 

Since most new appliances come with their own product warranties, home warranties are often not worth the money for the minimal amount of coverage you receive.

→ Learn more about home warranties

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Water backup coverage

Water backup coverage is a policy add-on offered by many insurance companies that protects your home and personal property from water damage caused by a sewer, sump pump, or drain overflow or backup. 

This type of endorsement can be added to most home insurance policies for as little as $30 a year on top of your standard coverage. Since water backup is such a common issue, it’s a fairly cheap add-on for the extra level of protection it provides.

→ Learn more about water backup coverage