Do I need insurance against damage to my water pipes?

December 1, 2017

Dear Consumer Ed:

I received an insurance solicitation in the mail saying that the water pipes on my property are my responsibility and not the responsibility of the county. The letter contained an offer to purchase insurance on the water pipes in case they ever burst or got damaged. Is it true that I am responsible for that type of damage, and if so, should I buy this insurance?

Consumer Ed says:

Generally speaking, the water pipes on your property are your responsibility, not the responsibility of your utility company. The utility company is responsible for any damage that occurs to the water lines at the street, but you are usually responsible for any damage to the water line that runs from the street to your house. Many homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover the water line running from the street to your house because these policies only cover damage to actual structures on your property, like your house and garage.

Although you would be responsible should any damage occur to your water line, there are several things you should consider before deciding whether to buy this insurance. First, you should weigh the likelihood of your water line breaking and the amount of money you would have to pay should it break against the cost of the insurance. To help you make your decision, it can be helpful to ask a trusted plumber to come look at your water line to determine how likely it is that it will break in the near future.

Second, you should shop around with different companies that offer this service before signing a contract. Check different companies’ ratings with the Better Business Bureau to ensure that you use a reputable company.

Finally, it is important to check the terms of the policy before you sign up. Make sure the policy limit is high enough that it would cover the total cost of the repairs to your water line should it burst, and read the policy carefully to see what specifically it covers. For example, some policies cover normal wear and tear on the line and damage that is naturally caused by tree roots, but do not cover any damage that you might cause to your water line by accidentally hitting the line while digging. You should also find out whether the policy will allow you to hire a plumber of your own choosing.

If you decide you want to buy water pipe insurance, remember to do your research so you can find a company and a policy that fits your needs.