The Polar Vortex and Burst Pipes


Polar_Vortex_2014By now, many of you know someone who had their plumbing pipes freeze and burst during our “Polar Vortex” sub-freezing temperatures. Or, it may have even happened to you. So how does an insurance policy respond?

Well, for a regular occupied homeowner policy or occupied rental dwelling policy, freezing of a plumbing system or household appliance is a covered loss. And, since the cause of the loss is freezing, the policy pays to repair or replace the damaged system or household appliance. In addition, if the house is not livable while the repairs are being completed, additional living expenses or loss of rent (landlord policy) are also covered.

This is different from a scenario where a pipe breaks or appliance fails due to age, wear and tear or mechanical breakdown. In those instances, the policy would pay to access the system or appliance, put back the access, and pay for any ensuing water damage. An example would be a water line bursting behind a ceramic tile shower wall. The repair to the pipe is not covered. However, the tear out of the building necessary to get to the pipe for repair, and putting back those materials (drywall, ceramic tile) is a covered part of the claim. Additional Living Expenses or Loss of Rent would also be covered.

If the house is vacant, there is no water damage coverage available. This is too much of a risk for an insurance company to take on. The thought process is a vacant house should have the water turned off and the pipes winterized.

Water damage claims are the most frequent and costliest claims insurance companies and property owners encounter. Have a question? Feel free to post below in the comments section!

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2 Responses to “The Polar Vortex and Burst Pipes”

  1. Greg Barnum Says:

    What about a subdivision clubhouse with frozen pipes? It’s not really occupied or unoccupied.

  2. Carolyn Nicholes Says:

    Thanks, Glen, for this very informative and timely article.

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