Does My Homeowners Insurance Pay When a Tree Root Causes a Pipe to Break?

September 1, 2015

homeowners insurance

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We don’t often think of everything that can damage our home because so many things happen sight unseen. So here’s a claim we’ve encountered before…What if a tree root causes a pipe to break under your house? It can cause water damage to the house and there’s the broken pipe to deal with. And to fix the pipe, you have to dig above it to get at it. Is there anywhere we can help in a situation like this?

And what about other losses like back up of sewers and drains.

Let’s first take a look at your homeowners insurance policy assuming you have a Homeowners 3 Special Form. We’ll need to see about the pipe itself, the cost to get to it, and any water damage to the house. The way we look at a Homeowners 3 is to consider the policy covering all risks except exclusions.

Some of the exclusions include loss caused by wear and tear, marring, deterioration, and failure to maintain. That means that if you know your pipe has tree roots in it and you fail to do anything about it, you may have trouble getting your claim paid.

What if you know the pipe has roots in it and you want them removed? If the pipe hasn’t broken, there’s no loss, so this is considered a maintenance issue. Your homeowners insurance does not pay for any kind of maintenance to or around the house.

If water suddenly escapes even though you didn’t maintain the pipes, your homeowners policy should pay for the damage the water causes. So, no coverage for the pipe but yes for the damage to the house.

What About Sewer Back Up?

Water damage can also be caused by a backup of your sewer or drain from off the residence premises. In the basic Homeowners 3 policy there is no coverage for backup of sewers and drains. This loss can cause serious damage to the inside of your home, especially if you have a finished basement. The water and sewage destroys the rooms in the basement leaving a most unpleasant situation.

There is a solution, though. There is a special Back Up of Sewers and Drains coverage that we can add to your homeowners insurance policy for just this risk. We encourage you to call us for a price.

Tree roots can cause extensive damage to the foundation of your home, fences, and the sewer pipes. So it’s a good idea to occasionally have your pipes looked at by sewer and drain professionals. They can actually see inside your pipes with a video camera to find roots or cracks that need fixing.

If you notice any slight delay in the flow of water through the pipes, give the sewer and drain pros a call. Not only will they find the problem, they’ll cut through the roots and other material in the pipes to clear them out before a major break happens.

Whether you have homeowners insurance coverage or not, a break under your house is always inconvenient. Hiring contractors and suffering through the disruption getting the pipes fixed is a hassle. This is especially true with pipes underground. Maintenance is probably the best insurance policy in this case.

We do encourage you to call us for a quote on coverage for Backup of Sewers and Drains. It’s inexpensive and may definitely come in handy someday.

Until next time,
The SZW Team

Scalzo, Zogby & Wittig, Inc. is your New Hartford area independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000.