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Polybutylene Pipes and Home Insurance: What You Should Know.

Updated: | Published:

Check your policy for polybutylene exclusions
Check your policy for polybutylene exclusions

Are you worried that your polybutylene pipes may affect your home insurance policy?

You should be. Insurance companies are working to eliminate their exposure to polybutylene leak damage claims.

We continually hear anecdotes from our customers about policy cancellations, short-notice demands to replace poly pipes (to maintain insurance coverage), or outrageous increases to annual premiums (recently, we've seen some Florida homeowners getting annual premium quotes in excess of the cost of a full home repipe!).

This article will cover some of the key issues related to Poly B pipes and homeowners insurance. We'll also discuss how much it will cost to get your polybutylene replaced (it is easier, and less costly than most homeowners realize).

Can I Insure A Home With Polybutylene Pipes?

The presence of polybutylene plumbing (aka Quest, Qest, poly-b, pb-1 pipe, or just plain "poly pipe") in your home is unlikely to prevent you from getting homeowners insurance in most states. For example: you should be able to maintain coverage for losses from fire, theft, liability, etc.

However, it has become increasingly difficult to insure a home against plumbing failures, if your plumbing includes polybutylene pipes and fittings. Not sure if you have poly pipes? Here's how to determine if you have polybutylene plumbing.

Here's an example of one underwriter refusing to cover any type of policy for homes with poly pipes: in Florida, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation will not insure any property with polybutylene plumbing. Citizens is the Florida not-for-profit insurance provider of last resort, for homeowners that can't get coverage in the private market.

Poly pipes have a checkered history of failure (why polybutylene plumbing fails). The accumulated years of exposure to water chemicals, along with the general wear and tear of usage, means these systems are past their working lives. All plumbers (and insurance companies) will say it is a matter of when, not if, your poly pipes will fail and leak.

If you have poly pipes, and are concerned about getting insurance coverage, you can schedule a free consult and quote with one of our local estimators to review your polybutylene replacement options.


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Will Insurance Cover Water Damage From Polybutylene Leaks?

The type of water damage coverage, depends on the nature of your polybutylene leak:

1. Water damage from sudden leaks:

If you can obtain coverage at all, it would only be for leaks that are "sudden and accidental" (the terminology used by Allstate). Be sure to review your policy carefully, to confirm that you don't have a blanket exclusion for polybutylene related leak damage.

If you are currently covered for sudden polybutylene leaks, be aware that upon renewal (or switching companies), this will likely change. We do multiple poly replacement repipes per week, for homeowners scrambling to meet an insurance imposed deadline to repipe, even when there had been no prior leaks.

2. Water damage from slow, ongoing leaks:

Homeowners insurance almost always has exclusions for water damage from slow, ongoing leaks.

Farmers insurance says:  "If the cause is gradual and preventable, including wear and tear or a lack of maintenance, then water damage is generally not covered by home insurance".

Mold from a polybutylene pipe leak
Mold from a polybutylene pipe leak

Slow leaks are quite common- and can be the most expensive to repair. A slow drip in a wall cavity can slowly spread, causing extensive hidden damage and black mold build up. Repairs for this type of damage may require removing drywall, cabinetry, and flooring, and taking affected walls down to bare studs; then putting it all back together again once dry (and mold removed).

3. Water damage from a leak resulting from poor maintenance:

Whether a polybutylene leak happens suddenly or slowly: if the insurance company believes the leak was caused by old pipes, lack of maintenance (like ensuring your home water pressure is within normal ranges), or was preventable, then they would deny any claims.

It may seem a gray area if you haven't had leaks: but insurance companies consider polybutylene as "old" and beyond it's intended lifespan, and that a responsible homeowner maintaining their plumbing system would have replaced it by now. So even if your policy doesn't have a poly exclusion, and a leak you experience is "sudden", you still risk having your claim denied for not taking appropriate preventive measures (and completely replacing your polybutylene).


Will Insurance Replace My Poly Pipes?

We don't believe there are any situations where a current homeowners insurance policy would pay for a full or even partial replacement of polybutylene pipes.

Starting in 2012, following the ruling in a lawsuit between a homeowner and State Farm Insurance (Guadiana v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co.), most insurance companies added specific exclusions to ensure they would not be required to replace homeowners' poly pipes. Prior to this case, many policies were worded to cover water damage plus repairs.

In the lawsuit, the homeowner had experienced a polybutylene water leak, and filed a claim for both the leak damage and the cost of a complete poly pipe replacement. The homeowner's argument was that the only viable "repair" of polybutylene was a complete repipe. The court agreed, and ruled in favor of the homeowner.


Receive a Free Polybutylene Replacement Quote.

Here at Repipe Specialists, we've replaced polybutylene plumbing in thousands of homes with either new PEX tubing or new copper pipe. We continually get positive customer feedback from customers about their whole home repipe experience. We often exceed their expectations on:

  • Speed: Our repipe crews typically complete a repipe in a day, returning on another day for wall patching.
  • Convenience: Through our  One-Stop Repipe™ Process, we handle everything from permits, to wall patching, to inspections.
  • Cleanliness: Our crews are trained to protect your home while working (we cover all surfaces with protective sheeting), and to clean up fully at the end of each day.
  • Peace of Mind: Repipe Specialists is a fully licensed plumber in every state we operate in, and we back all of our repipes with a lifetime warranty.
  • Financing programs: To help take the sting out of unplanned repipe expenses, we offer several financing programs.
  • Price: As a specialist that performs hundreds of repipes a week, we can deliver high quality repipes at a lower cost vs generalist plumbers. We have an article that covers repipe cost factors in detail. Our quotes typically range from $4,500 to $15,000 depending on the size and complexity of your project.

Schedule a free in home consult, and a local estimator will explain all your repipe options, and provide you with a written, fixed price quote.


About Repipe Specialists

Expert Repiping at an Affordable Cost

Since our founding in 1991, we've been completing residential and multi-family building repipes to the highest standard.

With over 75,000 repipes completed, we've perfected our One Stop Repipe™ process: providing you with a high quality and convenient repipe experience while offering significant savings compared to traditional plumbers - plus, our work is guaranteed for life.

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