Water Damage Claims: Frozen Pipes, Broken Pipes & Plumbing Leaks

It will soon be the time of year when frozen pipes burst and cause serious water damage to homes and businesses. We handle a lot of these types of property damage insurance claims every winter. Property owners are often left wondering why this happens and what they could have done to prevent it. And you can bet that insurance companies want to know the same thing! Learn more about water damage claims below, including how to prevent this common problem.

Frozen Pipes, Broken Plumbing, Burst Pipe Leaks...

Water Damage Claims Stats & Info

Easily preventable burst pipes and water damage can and will be denied by homeowners insurance companies. We'll discuss how to prevent burst pipes and how to make sure this type of property damage claim isn't denied by your insurance company if it does end up happening.

First, some background. According to Verisk Analytics ISO, property damage claims in general made up 98.1% of all homeowners insurance losses, and "water damage and freezing" accounted for almost 1/5th of those property damage claims (source). That's roughly 1 in 5 of all homeowners insurance claims that were filed between 2013 and 2017.

Frozen pipe bursts causing plumbing leak and water damage in Hanover PA

One in 50 homeowners filed a water damage claim in that same 5-year period, and the average cost of each claims was $10,182. That's a lot of home damage! When pipes freeze and burst, the plumbing leak causes damage to drywall, flooring, paint, trim, doors, windows, furniture, etc. It's a huge mess.

No one wants this to happen to their house or business. Follow the advice below to make sure you are doing everything you can to avoid water damage from frozen, broken and burst pipes.

Steps to Prevent Water Damage from Frozen PipesFollow this advice to make sure you are properly maintaining your home and doing everything you can to avoid having pipes freeze and burst this winter. That way if it does happen, you have the best chance possible of getting coverage from homeowners' insurance...

Tips for preventing freezing pipes and the water damage it causes basically fall into two categories: managing air temperature and managing water flow.

1. Manage Air Temperature by Insulating Water Pipes: You can seal leaks that allow freezing cold air into the wall cavity where water pipes are located. Several products can help with this. Our contractors like GreatStuff insulating foam sealant for their homes and the homes of our clients. You can use it to seal and insulate cracks in siding, gaps where electrical wiring enters the house, etc.
- Caulking these potential leaks helps, too. Keep in mind that most water damage from broken pipes happens when water pipes in exterior walls freeze, so this is a great place to start when trying to prevent freezing plumbing issues.
- Check out pipe insulation products at stores like Home Depot for easy options to insulate your water pipes. You can also use a product called "heat tape", which helps warm pipes as needs so that they don't freeze in the winter. It's best to call a qualified, licensed professional plumber for this.

2. Controll Water Flow to Prevent Freezing: When temperatures drop dramatically this winter, you can help make sure your water pipes don't freeze by keeping a couple faucets running until the cold front passes.
- It's also critical to shut off exterior water valves and disconnect your hose from the spicket. When the hose is connected water cannot drain from the hose bib. This will surely lead to freezing and bursting when temperatures drop. When the temperature drops to the point that you aren't going to use your hose anymore, turn it off and disconnect it to avoid freezing.

Water Damage from Frozen/Burst Pipes?

Don't wait for your insurance company to deny you, and don't settle for anything less than full coverage of your water damage repair or restoration. Contact the licensed pros at Chateau Public Adjusters - we will advocate for you and make sure you get the full amount of money you're entitled to. If we don't get you money, we don't get paid!

Water Damage Claims Insurance CoverageWhen and How Homeowners Insurance Denies Water Damage Claims from Frozen Pipes, Broken Plumbing & Leaks...

Generally speaking, most homeowners insurance policies do NOT cover damages caused by outside water entering the home. That is considered 'flooding', and is a seperate insurance policy. We have had clients who called us after their claim was denied, and we find out in the process that the only reason it was denied was because the homeowner said the word "flood" when describing the damage from what was actually a frozen pipe! This illustrates why it's so important to have a professional handle a water damage claim. - Eric Hare, owner of Chateau and Superior Services of PA & MD

Most homeowners insurance policies do indeed cover water damage caused by frozen pipes bursting. This often does not include the actual repair of the pipe itself, just the damage caused by the water from the pipe. And, of course, this water damage can be extremely disastrous in a very short amount of time.

Tip: Clean-Up is Policyholder's Responsibility

Our preferred contractor Superior Services of PA & MD handles our client's water damage mitigationand we tell our frozen pipe clients to call them right away. It is the homeowner's responsibility to get the clean-up process started to mitigate and prevent further damage. Some claims are denied because the policyholder did not act immediately, so this is very important.

Frozen pipe bursts are insurable when they happen "Suddenly and by Accident"...

Another reason that frozen pipe burst water damage claims are denied is because they did not happen "suddenly and by accident". Often times a homeowner notices water damage for the first time but it is later discovered that the leak was happening over a long period of time. Since it is the responsibility of the homeowner/policyholder to be aware of any and all damage, this type of claim will be denied. This is why it is so important to have a public adjuster inspect your water damage before you file the claim on your own.

Tip: Watch Your Language...

Another common cause for denial is use of the word "flood". It may sound petty, but what our owner Eric said above is true. Insurance policy language is intentionally tricky and hard to understand, and having a professional public adjuster can help ensure that you don't have a burst pipe claim denied on a technicality. Flooding is a seperate policy, and is not covered by standard homeowners' insurance. Frozen/burst/broken pipes is not "flooding". Using the correct insurance terminology is important when filing a water damage claim!

Need help filing a frozen pipe burst claim? We can maximize coverage of your water damage restoration!

We hope this blog article has helped you understand the importance of correctly handling your insurance claim. Maryland and Pennsylvania residents don't hesitate to contact us today for a free consultation so we can help make sure you get full coverage of your claim!

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  • Cumberland, Lancaster, York & Adams Counties in Pennsylvania
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