frozen pipe burst

Damage From Freezing Pipes: What You Should Do

Water damage is the second most common insurance claim, following wind and hail damage. During this time of year, water damage claims are most often caused by bursting pipes, and this winter has been particularly harsh.

The cold weather can seriously damage pipes in homes, seasonal homes, and businesses. A burst or leaking pipe is likely to result from frozen pipes thawing due to rising temperatures. As a result, the damage can cause a plethora of repairs, such as opening and repairing walls, ceilings, cabinetry, floors, and water damage to nearby personal property items. 

If you experience a frozen pipe burst in your home, act quickly to prevent further damage–a burst pipe can do a lot of damage in a short period of time. 

Additionally, you should know how to spot frozen pipes:

  • When you turn it on, your water trickles out (or doesn’t come out).
  • After flushing, the toilet doesn’t refill.
  • The water line is leaking, and/or it is iced over.

The policyholder has the duty to begin the cleanup, drying, and mitigation process that will prevent further damage. Failure to do so may result in your claim being denied by your insurance company. 

Our top six tips on dealing with frozen pipes this winter.

1. Turn off the building’s water supply immediately. Make sure you know where the shutoff valve is located and that it is operable in case you need to shut off the water quickly. You might also need to shut down the electrical power in the affected area.

2. Start drying out any water-logged items by moving them to a warmer and drier location.

3. Use a sump pump or other pump to remove as much water as possible, and place fans and a dehumidifier to make the area more comfortable.

4. If you can, locate the source of the burst and repair it, or contact a plumber if necessary. Insurance usually doesn’t cover the cost of repairing a burst pipe.

5. You should notify your insurance company or insurance agent directly if you have damage that should be covered under your policy.

6. Take pictures of the damaged areas to document them.

Is my frozen pipe burst damage covered by insurance?

Water damage caused by a burst frozen pipe is typically covered by an all-perils policy rather than the pipe itself. There may be damage to the carpet, drywall, paint, or ceilings, as well as additional services needed to clean up the water, dry the house, and possibly prevent mold growth. Frequently, an insurance claim is denied when a policyholder makes a claim for something that suddenly appears to them but occurred because of an ongoing problem, such as a small leak. Such situations are called “gradual damage.”

Whenever a pipe bursts due to lack of heat in a building, a claim for water damage will be denied. Frozen pipe bursts must occur “suddenly and by accident” and shouldn’t have been easily preventable in order to be covered by insurance. The insurance company may deny coverage if they determine neglect, wear, and tear, or routine maintenance are at fault.

In other words, if a leaking pipe that you fail to fix-even if you’re not aware of it-then bursts, your insurance company may reject the claim due to your negligence. The same applies if you live in a northern climate and your broken pipe was caused by freezing due to a lack of heat in your home. You could be found negligent, and your claim was denied.

Get the Settlement You Deserve From Your Frozen Pipe Damage

When frozen pipe bursts in your home or business, contact Maximum Public Adjusters, and one of our licensed public adjusters can help you document and file your water damage claim so you can reach a fair settlement. By being your advocate, we’ll make sure your settlement money and insurance claim recoveries are maximized. Never settle for less–call us at 516-385-2422.

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