Water damage is among the most common causes of homeowners’ insurance claims–and one of the biggest sources of confusion. If a flooding river inundates your home, your insurance is unlikely to cover the damage. But if the flood comes from within the home itself, the result of a burst pipe, you can breathe easier: Your policy probably will cover the damage.
In general, water damage from a burst pipe inside your home will be covered by a standard homeowners’ insurance policy. If an outside pipe bursts and causes damage, that should be covered, too, though you must be able to demonstrate that the damage did indeed come from the burst pipe. If the insurer concludes that poor drainage–a non-covered maintenance problem–was the real culprit, your claim may be denied.
Your water-damage claim also might be denied if your insurer concludes that you are responsible for the pipe bursting in the first place. Most pipes that burst do so because they freeze. If you left your home unheated during freezing weather, your insurer can cite your negligence as a reason for denying your claim.
Even if your insurer does pay for the water damage, it may refuse to pay to repair the pipe itself. Insurance doesn’t cover normal wear and tear on a home. If the pipe burst simply because it was old and corroded, or because it was attached to an appliance that malfunctioned, that might count as normal wear and tear.