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Pipe Burst Insurance Claims: 6 Tips to Know About the Process

A burst pipe inside your property can easily turn into a nightmare. You have moisture accumulating inside your building. Your water is turned off. And you’ve got to deal with plumbers, contractors, and the insurance company to get it all sorted out. On top of that, you’ve just read something in your insurance policy that says you’re only covered for mold damage if it’s “covered peril.” So now you also have to figure out if the damage you’ve got is covered, which can be overwhelming. Where do you even start? 


Whether you’re in the middle of dealing with a burst pipe or you’re at the beginning of the process and trying to gather as much information as possible about the claim process, use these six tips to navigate the claim process.


1. Document as much as possible


The insurance company will only cover the items that you can prove were affected by the pipe burst. Before you begin the cleanup and remediation process, document the extent of the damage. Take photos of the leak itself and the items that have been affected. Make a list of everything that was damaged, along with an estimation of what they cost. This will make it harder for the insurance company to deny covering those items. 


2. Extreme cold weather increases claim activity


The winter deep freeze of early 2021 led to a sharp increase in burst pipes, particularly in Texas, where homes went without power for several days. State Farm Insurance reported that they received a total of 18,900 claims in Texas the week of the event, and many of them were related to burst pipes. For comparison, the insurer said they only received 75 claims for frozen pipes in all of 2020. 


If your burst pipe is the result of a serious weather event, then be prepared to deal with a more prolonged claims process, as the insurance company is likely inundated with claims. 


Why water pipes burst in winter


The 2021 deep freeze was an important reminder of how freezing temperatures can easily wreak havoc on your plumbing system (and your property). For people who live in states like Texas, where freezing temperatures aren’t common, it’s easy to forget that pipes can burst when temperatures reach below 32°. 


When water freezes in pipes, it forms a blockage, which causes pressure to build up between the ice and the faucet. At some point, the pressure becomes too much and the pipe bursts. Pipes in attics and exterior walls are particularly vulnerable, since they’re less likely to be insulated from the cold. 


3. Sprinkler systems increase risk


If the cause of a burst pipe starts in a sprinkler system, the damage will be much more extensive––and expensive. Because sprinkler systems are designed to disperse water to a wide area, you’re more likely to see serious damage to furniture, appliances, computers, and equipment, in addition to moisture in your carpets and flooring. 


For that reason, one insurance company found that sprinkler system-induced pipe bursts were 33% more costly than domestic water pipe burst claims. 

 

4. Hire a public adjuster


It’s hard to understand how frustrating the claim process can be until you’re in the middle of it. There’s so much to juggle––conversations with the insurance company, repairs, and your day-to-day life and work. A public adjuster works on your behalf to make sure you’re getting fair treatment and compensation from your insurer. Ideally, they aren’t paid unless you’re paid. That means they’re incentivized to advocate for you and make sure you get the best possible outcome for your situation. 


They also take a lot of the time-consuming aspects of managing your claim off your hands. They work directly with the insurance company and provide you with easy-to-understand guidance on the language in your policy and the correspondence from your insurer. 


5. It’s possible your claim isn’t covered


While most burst pipe claims are covered by insurance, there are some instances where your insurer may deny the claim. One common reason is an aging plumbing system. If the insurance company determines that the cause of the burst pipe was wear and tear due to age, they can deny the claim. They also may deny the claim if it was caused by a faulty appliance, such as a dishwasher or refrigerator. 


This is another reason to work with an adjuster. They can give you an honest, unbiased opinion on whether your claim is covered. If they believe that the insurance company’s decision was unfair, then they can advocate on your behalf to potentially change it. A public adjuster is there to protect your interests—and your interests only when it comes to settling your claim. Public adjusters do not work for the insurance company at all. Instead, they work for you to make sure that you are getting exactly what your insurance policy says that you’re owed. 


6. Make sure you get the full coverage available


Even when your claim is covered, it’s important to make sure you take full advantage of the coverage offered to you. For homeowners, your policy covers the costs of items like lodging, meals, and transportation for the time period that you’re unable to live in your home. 


For businesses, the losses can be more complex, and may be covered by other insurance plans and additional coverage. As an example, business continuity insurance may cover employee payroll while your business is closed. A public adjuster can help you understand what coverage you have, and which plans would be best suited to cover certain expenses. 


If you’ve already filed a claim, then it’s important to have someone on your side to help you work through the next steps. And if you haven’t yet filed a claim, but you own insured property, it’s good to have a relationship with someone who’ll be there for you if and when you need them. At IronClaim, we’re dedicated to giving our clients total support throughout the entire claims process. Get in touch with us today.