Does homeowners insurance cover broken pipes?

02 Mar
Snow covering above Austin, Texas after winter snow storm Uri

Texas was hit by some major winter storms recently which caused a variety of problems, including frozen pipes, roof issues and even flooding. If you have suffered any of these issues you may be wondering if your homeowners insurance is going to cover the damage. In most states, frozen pipes would be covered but there are complications in Texas.

Let’s have a look at some of the issues homeowners in Texas are facing and whether they are covered by homeowners coverage:

Does homeowners insurance cover broken pipes? 

Yes, homeowners insurance covers damage caused by broken pipes. The majority of homeowner policies cover damage that is caused by broken or burst pipes. The typical insurance policy will also cover damage that results from a power failure, if the damage to your home was the result of an offsite failure (your power went out) your insurance should cover the loss. 

What factors complicate the situation in Texas?

In Texas, insurance policies will not cover damage caused by frozen plumbing unless the claimant took reasonable steps to prevent the damage from getting worse. Reasonable steps may include turning off your water and maintaining the heat in your home. 

“I’m sure there’s going to be litigation after this. With the insurance companies trying to define alongside the policyholder, what that reasonable action looks like,” said Andrew Hurst, LendingTree insurance expert in a recent KENS5 in San Antonio report.  “The silver lining is that millions of people are going through the same thing. If your home suffers damage, you lose some property, chances are many Texans are experiencing the same thing. That means the insurance providers are going to have a protocol in place right now. This is not going to be a unique case.”

Is backed up water a problem? 

Some homeowners have experienced issues with water damage due to a backed up or seeping drain. Sink backups have caused some damage as well. Unfortunately, the majority of standard homeowner policies exclude this type of damage unless you have added a sewer line or drain backup endorsement to your policy. Unless you have added this endorsement to your policy you will have to cover the cost of repair. 

What about flood damage?

Damage from flood water, including excess ground water is excluded from almost every standard homeowner policy. You must carry a flood insurance for flood damage to be covered. Flood insurance can be purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or in the private market. 

While flood insurance can be expensive, it can be a financial lifesaver if your home is damaged by flood water which can include melting snow discharging into the home. The majority of flood insurance policies have a 30-day waiting period before they go into effect, so it is important to purchase flood insurance well before a storm hits. 

If my roof collapses am I covered? 

In the majority of situations, your insurer would pay for a new roof. However, it is your responsibility to properly maintain your home and if you fail to keep up with your home’s maintenance, your insurer may deny your claim. If you knew there was structural decay in your home or put off repairs for a leaking roof and it then collapsed, your insurer my deny your claim. 

Always keep up with home maintenance and fix small problems as soon as possible so they don’t turn into anything major. 

Renters Insurance

If you are renting and suffered damage you may have questions about whether or not your damages are covered. 

Here is what you need to know about renters insurance and storm damage:

Burst pipes: If you experienced a burst or broken pipe in your apartment your landlord’s insurance should cover the damage to the pipes, walls and structure of the apartment building. Your landlord should arrange for repairs and their insurance will cover the cost of repairs.

“Renters are not responsible for covering the cost of repairing busted pipes in the ceiling or anything like that. They are responsible to report it to the management and we highly recommend that you do that quickly and in writing,” said John Boriack, president of the Houston Apartment Association in the KENS5 San Antonio report.

However, if your personal property was damaged due to the burst pipe (flooding, leaks damaging your property) your renters insurance will have to step up to cover this type of damage. If your personal possessions were damaged you will need to file a claim with your renters insurance company and if you are not carrying a renters insurance policy, the cost to repair or replace your possessions will fall to you. 

The same is true for damage you cause to your neighbors. If the burst pipe floods your apartment and leaks through to your neighbor below damaging their personal property, your renters insurance policy should cover their damage as well. 

Claim Tips

It is always important to document your damage and file a claim as soon as possible. Here are a few tips for filing a claim:

Document the damage: Take photos and video of the damage as soon as it is safe to enter your home or apartment. Take photos from multiple angles and document all damage. Many insurance companies allow you to file a claim online and submit your photos and video. 

Make temporary repairs: If it is safe, make temporary repairs to help prevent further damage. As an example, board up broken windows, or if your roof is damaged, put a tarp over it. Insurers will not cover additional damage if you don’t make reasonable efforts to prevent further damage. 

Expect delays: Texas has been hit hard by these storms so there is a good chance that there will be delays related to claims. “Nobody’s dealt with this level of claims before and this wave of claims,” Boriack said in the KENS5 San Antonio report. “Everybody in Houston almost has this damage so insurance companies of course are going to be a little slower than normal process requests.”

FEMA may help: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently announced that residents who live in the 77 counties listed below who suffered damage from the winter storm event can apply for disaster assistance:

Angelina, Aransas, Bastrop, Bee, Bell, Bexar, Blanco, Brazoria, Brazos, Brown, Burleson, Caldwell, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Collin, Comal, Comanche, Cooke, Coryell, Dallas, Denton, DeWitt, Ellis, Falls, Fort Bend, Galveston, Gillespie, Grimes, Guadalupe, Hardin, Harris, Hays, Henderson, Hidalgo, Hood, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Kaufman, Kendall, Lavaca, Liberty, Madison, Matagorda, Maverick, McLennan, Montague, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Nueces, Orange, Palo Pinto, Panola, Parker, Polk, Rockwall, Sabine, San Jacinto, San Patricio, Scurry, Shelby, Smith, Stephens, Tarrant, Travis, Tyler, Upshur, Van Zandt, Victoria, Walker, Waller, Wharton, Wichita, Williamson, Wilson and Wise counties.

FEMA said by law, it can’t duplicate benefits for losses covered by insurance. If insurance does not cover all your damage, you may be eligible for federal assistance. The fastest way to apply is online at

If you don’t have internet access you can register by calling 800-621-3362 or TTY: 800-462-7585. The phone lines operate from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. CDT each day.

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