On the slide in front of you right there, is a picture of a pipe beneath the bathroom floor in a building on slab.
So underneath that floor is earth, concrete, and whatever else was filled in underneath of that floor. And when you have a broken pipe or some form of supply to your bathroom that ruptures beneath the slab, we’ll need to create access, meaning cut a hole in the floor to get to that plumbing.
Here’s the questions on your mind:
- How does home insurance cover plumbing?
- How do you get insurance to pay for water damage?
- Why do you want your insurance company to pay for plumbing issues?
The answer to number 3 is simple. Because it can get really expensive, by the way.
Sometimes you have to take up the entire floor.
All right, so you have a plumbing leak.
Well plumbers’ access itself is really covered under most homeowner policies. Meaning, it is generally listed as a coverage. There are some specific areas in the policy that may call it tear out, but it’s generally covered under the policy. However, leaks and the plumbing pipe itself are NOT covered by the policy.
Coverage is limited, for the most part, to indoor only. So if they have to dig up your front yard, the access portion is generally not covered in the front yard.
So, anything inside the house would be covered under the access provision. And it doesn’t cover the cost of the plumbing repair or the pipe. So they spend thousands of dollars digging up to get to the broken pipe. And then whatever it costs to fix the pipe won’t be covered.
What You See on TV
This can be really limited, the amount of coverage available on what we call modified forms—them being the forms you see on TV every day, and I’ll go over a couple of them tonight. So rerouting a plumbing actually can be an option under Access Claims. Meaning, instead of digging up the floor, instead of tearing all through here, can we rerun this pipe in a way or a manner that gives us less damage to the property?
All right, so let’s look at it a little bit further.
So, the companies you want to look out for right now are State Farm and Farmers, they both have limits in this section that can be detrimental to a claim. And some of them, we call tunneling limits, that is where you have to push or dig a pipe underneath to get through concrete without disrupting the concrete, where you basically tunnel the pipe underneath something.
Check this out…
There are specific limits in these policies for how much money is available for that. And like I said, the State Farm and the Farmers policy, very restrictive language.
Let’s take a look at a plumbing invoice example:
So a plumbing invoice example would be they had to cut a hole in the concrete slab like we showed you in the beginning, so they charged $1,200. They repaired the pipe underneath the slab, say $600, and then they patch the concrete for $300. Almost all those plumbers are going to say, “Hey, we’re not responsible for the damage recreated,” meaning the tile, the paint, and everything else. So the tile repair estimate was 5000. So under most policies, you’re going to have the covered portion being the access of 1200, the broken pipes not covered, so you’d have the 300 to patch the concrete, and the policy would most likely cover the $5,000 in tile or building damage. So the only thing not covered in a standard HO form indoors or standard HO form would be the actual pipe repair of $600—not such a bad deal.
Take a look at Farmers Insurance if that involved tunneling…
What’s this mean?
The cost to tunnel under, cut into or tear out and replace any part of the foundation: slab, concrete floor, patio or pad or the like, or the foundation or a retaining wall is limited to $2,000. Well, if you had $5,000 to dig out that slab, they would limit the coverage to that section to $2,000.
Well, it’s not uncommon for the access provision or access cost to be 3, 4, 5, even $10,000. So if you have a Farmer’s policy, and this loss occurs to you, you’re not looking for this coverage when you buy the policy, it doesn’t show on the declaration page, and they certainly don’t make a commercial about it.
Here’s a secret,
It’s right in the policy, that is copy and pasted right out of policy, the limit is $2,000. It’s really pretty aggressive, just so you know…
State Farm’s policy is really complicated, I had to read it three times when it first came out. So most access provisions or tear outs are the results of a blockage in plumbing. So you flush the toilet, and all of a sudden, the toilet overflows.
Did you know, that’s generally what is known as a trigger for access coverage?
So you call the plumber, you say my toilet overflowed. Had a little bit of water on the floor, not a big deal, maybe got the vanity wet. A plumber comes out and says, “Yep, we ran a camera through the line, and we have to tear up the middle of the house to get to it.”
Well, if you read State Farm’s provision, it says:
“The costs you incur to tear out and replace only that particular part of the building, or a condominium unit to gain access to this specific point that that system or appliance from within where the water escaped.” Well, in my scenario, the water escaped at the toilet. And I’m going to need to access the middle of the family room where the break is underneath the slab, and therefore, this provision may not apply.
It’s incredible. It needs to be fought.
I know there’s some class action work being done on this provision.
But I can tell you right now, that this if you have this in your policy and you do, if you have a new State Farm, when you have an under-slab plumbing leak, you can be in real trouble. If you liked what you heard leave a comment, give us a call, send us an email, and share us on our social media page.
Need help fighting a claim? Call 312) 883-2064 for assistance.
[Source of above content delivered by Bill Underkoffler for Metro Public Adjustment]