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Are burst pipes covered by home insurance in Alberta?

Burst pipes can cause extensive water damage, compromise structural integrity, and contribute to mould growth in your home. There are a few causes of burst pipes, including: 

  • Frozen pipes 
  • Damage from tree roots 
  • Corrosion 
  • Shifting earth 
  • Clogs 
  • High–water pressure  

But the big question is the damage caused by burst pipes covered by home insurance in Alberta? The answer depends on the cause of the burst pipe, the circumstances around it, and your individual coverage.

Cause of the Burst Pipe 

The cause of burst pipe matters because insurance is based around the cause of the damage known as a peril. Not all perils that result in a burst pipe are covered. Some perils may only be included under more comprehensive insurance packages or through endorsements (add-on coverage). Others are excluded entirely.  

For example, frozen pipes are often covered (depending on the circumstances). Damage from tree roots may be covered with the purchase of an endorsement known as service line coverage. However, clogs and high-water pressure are considered maintenance issues and would most likely not be covered.   

It’s important to read your policy documents and understand the exclusions. Your broker can help answer any questions or explain your coverage.  

Circumstances Around Your Burst Pipe 

Did you leave your home unattended while on vacation? You may not be covered for a burst pipe.  

Most insurance companies require your home be checked on every 24-72 hours to be covered for this type of claim. You can ask a trusted neighbour, friend or family member to do this. We recommend having them write in a logbook to confirm they’ve checked on your home. You may also have the option to turn off your water while you’re away – contact your broker or insurance company to find out.   

The circumstances matter because empty homes are far more likely to have problems go unnoticed. If the heating goes out and you’re at home, you’re likely to catch it faster and prevent a frozen pipe. Or, at worst, you’ll discover a burst pipe quickly and be able to mitigate the damage. The longer a burst pipe is left, the worse the damage is.  

Individual Insurance Coverage 

The final factor in determining if your burst pipe will be covered by your insurance is what your coverage is. Again, this is generally based on the peril or cause of damage. 

Basic home insurance will likely include coverage for frozen burst pipes (depending on the circumstances). You may need to purchase an endorsement called service line coverage (sometimes included in comprehensive home insurance packages) to have coverage for some burst pipes caused by tree root damage, shifting earth, and corrosion. Not all insurance companies offer service line coverage and the perils covered will vary. 

Every insurance policy is different, so it’s important to know what’s covered and what’s excluded. Talk to your broker if you have any questions or concerns.