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With another Chicago winter settling in all around us, you’ve done your best to get the house ready for freezing temperatures. If something should happen, you rely on your home insurance policy to cover property damage. Those premiums pay for your peace of mind too.
As well as you know your policy, do you wonder, “Are frozen pipes covered by my homeowners insurance?”
We’re often asked that question when we’re called in to take care of burst pipe water damage after a hard freeze. The answer isn’t a simple yes or no, but it doesn’t have to be confusing either.
Does Home Insurance Cover Frozen Pipes? 5 Facts You Need to Know
There probably aren’t any devils in your homeowners insurance policy, but make sure you’re familiar with the details. Frozen burst pipes represent a specific type of water damage claim. Our overview includes five facts that can help you better understand how home insurance covers frozen pipes.
1. The Damage Spreads Quickly
Most frozen pipe bursts occur during the night when temperatures plummet. By the time you wake up, even a small pipe split can spread extensive damage throughout your home. It has to be addressed immediately.
Call your insurance agent right away, and ask about your best temporary DIY options. Follow up by contacting a restoration company that specializes in emergency burst pipe repair, cleanup and recovery. You want certified professionals on the scene as soon as possible.
2. Documentation Makes a Difference
How well frozen pipes are covered by homeowners insurance can sometimes depend on documentation. Your adjuster might consider the age or condition of your home’s plumbing a factor in the breakage. Be prepared with proof that you’ve taken responsible precautions against freezing weather.
As you winterize plumbing around the house, use your smartphone to record “before” shots that show the condition of pipes and joints. Follow up with “after” photos of your insulation project, and save it all just in case. If there are any questions about your claim, you have dated, digital documentation.
3. Most Water Damage Is Covered
Typically, homeowners policies provide coverage for frozen burst pipe damage. We always suggest that you check with your carrier to confirm the details, but you can expect insurance to cover the cost of accessing pipes for repair.
Usually, policies also take care of cleanup, repairs or replacements for water-damaged carpets, furnishings, electronics, appliances and most personal belongings. Coverage also includes the cost of infrastructure tear-out and reconstruction. You may even be reimbursed for living expenses if damages force you to temporarily vacate the house.
4. You’re Still Responsible for Some Costs
Does home insurance cover frozen pipes? No. Most policies only cover the resulting water damage. Very few pay for actual plumbing repairs. Understandably, this fact surprises most homeowners. Still, the cost of pipe repair usually represents a small percentage of overall expenses.
If your adjuster determines that the frozen burst pipe occurred because of shoddy maintenance or an old, corroded plumbing system, you may be held responsible for all damages. While this isn’t likely, the possibility is reason enough to document your work winter-proofing your home’s pipes.
5. Dealing With an Insurance Carrier Takes Care
From your first call to your agent through the entire process, don’t ever refer to the situation in your home as a flood. The term has a specific definition with insurance companies that negates standard coverage. Always refer to your frozen burst pipe problems as water damage.
Be prepared to thoroughly document your claim. Most insurance carriers are very fair with customers, but they won’t pay for cleanup and repairs outside your job’s scope. If you expect a new dining room or man cave from your claim, you’ll probably have to pay for it out-of-pocket.
You Need a Partner
Juggling the challenges of water damage cleanup and restoration isn’t easy. Add to that dealing with your insurance carrier, and a frozen burst pipe project can seem overwhelming. You need a partner who can take care of repairs and mitigation and navigate the claims process, as well provide you with the necessary knowledge to prevent frozen pipes in the first place.
Before hiring a professional restoration contractor, verify the company’s ability to provide:
• Solid references as well as examples of completed projects similar to yours.
• Complete capabilities to handle a job from emergency repairs to final reconstruction.
• Preferred Vendor Status and a proven track record for working with insurance carriers.
• Any additional services that might be needed like mold removal and remediation.
Count on Us
Our final recommendation is an easy one. Take a good look at your homeowners policy today. Contact your agent with any questions, and chase the devil out of those details. If you’ve found our overview helpful, be sure to let us know through our Comments Section.
When you need help recovering from burst pipe water damage, check out our helpful blog and give us a call.We mitigate all kinds of problems that result from frozen pipes in Chicago homes, and we work with local and national insurance companies every day. You can always count on ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba as your trusted partner.