Property insurance companies have developed a number of complicated rules over the years to deal with plumbing losses. The result is often a mishmash of coverage provisions, limitations, and exclusions. What this means in the real world is that even if an insurance company says “No,” there is often a “Yes!” to be found, if one knows where to look.
Chapter Two: Cast Iron Drain Lines
“See, that pipe is all rusted out. That’s a long term event. We don’t cover that.”
Not so fast! Although insurance policies typically have rules against coverage for damage caused by rust, corrosion and “wear and tear,” tucked deep inside your typical homeowner’s insurance policy are some important exceptions to that rule. One of the exceptions will typically say, in effect, that if water damage results from rust, corrosion, or “wear and tear” the actual water damage is covered (though the rusted pipe is not covered). The policy will also typically cover the cost to tear out parts of the home necessary to repair or replace the rusted pipe (“tear-out” coverage). Finally, the policy will also cover the cost to build the house back in the condition it was before the loss (“build-back” coverage).
What can and often does happen is even a small section of cast iron piping rusts out, clogs, and causes a home’s drainage plumbing system to stop working. Because the pipe is located underneath the home’s interior flooring, the floors have to be cut up to gain access to the pipe. Then, the house must be built back to the original condition – an expensive task! In short, a piece of pipe which might cost $50 dollars “dies” of old age and triggers a problem which can cost $50,000 to $100,000 or more to resolve.
It’s safe to say that insurance companies do not particularly like these kinds of claims; yet, as our houses age these claims are on the rise. Homes built in the 1970s and earlier will ordinarily have cast iron drain lines whose “life expectancy” is about fifty years. When their lives expire, a costly problem results, which is why PVC has been the material of choice since the 1980s.
If your home experiences a similar plumbing problem, don’t take “no” for an answer from your insurance company. Lawyer William Terry has personally handled thousands of these kinds of cases over his 25-year career and he is able to help you if you find yourself dealing with a water disaster brought on by the failure of cast iron plumbing systems. Be sure to contact him at (772) 217-6600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a free evaluation of your insurance claim.