Was your property built before 1975? If so, your plumbing system may utilize cast-iron pipes, which can corrode, rust, leak, and cause water damage. The good news is that your insurance company may be required to pay for any repair costs.
To find out more, we spoke to Morgan & Morgan attorney Phil Sanov, one of the premier cast-iron pipes insurance dispute attorneys in the country.
Morgan & Morgan: Why would a cast iron pipes plumbing system replacement be covered under my homeowner's insurance policy?
Phil Sanov: The typical homeowners insurance policy includes coverage for “tear-out and repair” for access to the plumbing system, even if the pipes themselves are not covered. This is important, because the pipes themselves are not the major expense! They are comparatively quite cheap when compared to the cost of digging up those pipes and putting the repaired or new pipes back into the ground.
That cost is the very thing you are paying all those premiums for. If your pipes have gone bad, your insurer very likely is legally responsible for paying to have them removed, and to have the new ones installed correctly.
M&M: What is the importance of the house being built before 1975?
PS: We focus on whether your home was built before 1975 because that’s when most of the construction industry switched from cast iron pipes to PVC pipes for plumbing. So homes built before 1975 are much more likely to have cast iron pipes, and therefore more likely to be experiencing issues today that would require repairs or replacement.
M&M: My house was built before 1975, has a cast iron pipes plumbing system, and my insurance company denied my claim. What should I do now?
PS: Simple: Give us a call, or visit us at forthepeople.com. It is not surprising that your insurer does not want to pay this claim, and it’s not surprising that they’ll have come up with a reason to deny it. But the law is the law, a contract is a contract, and they may be required to pay your claim anyway. We can help you figure that out with a free consultation.
M&M: What reason will insurance companies use to deny pipe replacement claims?
PS: A common reason we see is the insurer claiming that the cost to replace the pipes exceeds the policy coverage amount – often $10,000 – to repair water damage. But this reasoning is faulty, because your claim falls under an entirely different coverage category: The ““tear-out and repair” coverage mentioned above to cover the cost of getting access to those pipes, and then repairing damage caused by the replacement process. So even if your insurer says your claim exceeds the coverage amount, you may still have a lawful claim. Give us a call.
M&M: I really need to repair my pipes now, and I don’t have time to wait for the insurer to pay my claim. Will paying for the repairs myself out of pocket affect my claim in any way?
PS: It shouldn’t. Most insurance contracts include provisions that require the insurer to pay for out-of-pocket repair costs if the claim is valid. In fact, you may be required to make repairs to prevent further damage or the insurer will use that as justification to deny or lowball a claim. So go ahead and make your emergency repairs. If your claim is valid, we’ll help you fight for the compensation you deserve.
M&M: My insurance company offered some money to repair my cast iron pipes plumbing system, but it's not going to cover all the repair costs. What should I do?
PS: Morgan & Morgan is here to help you get all the insurance compensation you’re entitled to. If your insurer is lowballing your claim, give us a call. We can help you fight for everything you deserve.
M&M: I own a house built before 1975 and I think I have cast iron pipes plumbing damage. Should I pay out of pocket for a plumber to inspect before filing an insurance claim?
PS: No need. Give us a call, and we’ll send a qualified inspector to come out and inspect your system on our time, and at our expense. And if you do have cast iron pipes that are failing, we’ll help you go over your options for getting those repair costs covered by your insurer.
M&M: What if I only have slow drains and minor backups, no leaks or water damage?
PS: Even if all you have are slightly slower drains, this may be a sign of failing pipes that you need to take care of before it does actual damage. Give us a call and let us come and inspect your pipes for free, and let you know what your options are.
M&M: Nothing lasts forever, so why would insurance companies be responsible for something that was built over 45 years ago?
PS: It’s a good question, that can seem a little unfair. Why should your insurer have to pay for fixing the old pipes that came with your house? The answer is that that is not what your insurer is responsible for here. Rather, they are responsible for covering the costs of accessing the pipes, and for covering the costs of repairing the damage to your home or property caused by that access.
This is an important distinction. You pay a monthly premium for the very purpose of protecting yourself against an unexpected major expense, and that protection is the product the insurer is agreeing to provide in your insurance policy contract. Having to dig up floors and lawns to access broken pipes is the exact kind of risk insurance exists to protect you from, and the exact kind of risk insurers are willingly accepting.
M&M: I run a condo association for condos built before 1975; do condos and other properties also qualify for a free pipes inspection and consultation?
PS: Absolutely Although our outreach has focused on homeowners, we are also offering our services to insured owners of any other kind of property. That means condos, apartment buildings, or commercial buildings. If your property was built before 1975 and you’re worried about corroding pipes and water damage, give us a call.
Get Help With Your Pipes
Morgan & Morgan has been helping people get the insurance payouts they deserve for 30 years. The consultation is always free, and you’ll never have to pay anything up front, or anything at all unless we win for you.
We’ve recovered more than $15 billion for our clients to date. If you think you may have a claim, try our online evaluation tool. It only takes 60 seconds to see if you might have a case.