Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Irrigation Systems?

Installing an irrigation system can help keep your lawn and landscaping healthy and green. But what happens if your irrigation system is damaged? Does homeowners insurance provide coverage?

This comprehensive guide examines how standard homeowners insurance policies cover irrigation systems. We’ll look at what causes of damage are typically covered vs. excluded, how to maximize your irrigation system protection, and steps for filing an insurance claim if repairs are needed.

Overview of Irrigation System Insurance Coverage

In most cases, a homeowners insurance policy will provide some coverage for irrigation systems as part of the dwelling protection. Dwelling coverage insures the main structural elements of your home and attached structures, including equipment like irrigation systems permanently installed on the premises.

However, coverage specifics can vary greatly by insurance company, so it’s essential to read your individual policy and talk to your agent. Here are some key factors that impact irrigation system coverage:

  • Type of irrigation system – Permanently installed underground systems are more likely to be covered compared to temporary above-ground systems.

  • Cause of damage – Standard policies cover sudden damage from most covered perils but exclude gradual wear and tear or negligent maintenance issues.

  • Dollar limits – Dwelling coverage limits, which range from $100,000 to $500,000+, cap the amount you can claim for irrigation system damage.

  • Exclusions – Each insurer excludes certain causes of loss not covered. For irrigation systems, common exclusions are surface water, freezing, mechanical breakdown, and corrosion.

  • Location – Homes in areas prone to specific risks like winter freeze damage may have exclusions for related irrigation system damage.

What Damage Is Typically Covered?

Though specific exclusions will apply, you can expect the following types of sudden irrigation system damage to be covered under most standard homeowners insurance policies:

  • Fire – Fire damage to an irrigation system attached to an insured dwelling, including from wildfires.

  • Lightning – Direct lightning strikes that damage irrigation system components. Surge protectors are recommended to help prevent electrical damage.

  • Windstorm or hail – Damage to above-ground irrigation components like sprinkler heads from severe storms.

  • Vandalism or theft – Vandals damaging irrigation system equipment, or theft of backflow valves, sprinkler heads, etc.

  • Falling trees/branches – Damage to irrigation pipes, valves, and equipment from falling trees or limbs.

  • Weight of ice or snow – Collapse damage to irrigation components from excessive snow or ice accumulation.

  • Vehicle/aircraft impact – Accidental strikes to an irrigation system by vehicles or aircraft.

  • Riot/civil commotion – Intentional irrigation system damage by groups of people.

  • Water main break – Damage caused suddenly by flooding from a broken main supply line.

What Damage Is Excluded?

While the list of covered losses is fairly broad, most home insurance policies have exclusions when it comes to irrigation systems. Here are some common losses typically excluded:

  • Wear and tear – Gradual deterioration of irrigation equipment from regular use and exposure to elements.

  • Improper maintenance – Damage caused by failing to properly winterize or maintain the system.

  • Surface water – Flood damage from rain, tides, waves, or overflow of bodies of water. Separate flood insurance is needed.

  • Freezing – Damage to above-ground components and pipes from freezing temperatures. Can be covered if proper winterization steps are taken.

  • Corrosion/rust – Gradual damage to irrigation system parts from exposure to corrosive elements and moisture.

  • Mechanical breakdown – Failure of irrigation system equipment due to age or defective parts/materials.

  • Ground shifting – Earth movement and sinkholes damaging underground irrigation pipes and structures.

  • Roots – Gradual damage caused by root overgrowth impinging on irrigation system components.

Always read your specific homeowners policy to understand precisely which perils are covered and excluded for your irrigation system. Also note that damage to the lawn and vegetation itself from lack of water is never covered.

Tips to Maximize Your Coverage

While most irrigation system damage is covered subject to policy limits and exclusions, there are steps you can take to maximize your protection:

  • Inspect annually – Routinely inspect the system to catch issues early before they worsen into more significant damage.

  • Perform maintenance – Follow all manufacturer guidelines for maintenance and winterization. Keep detailed records.

  • Use surge protectors – Add surge protectors to the irrigation system to minimize damage from power fluctuations.

  • Extend piping – In cold climates, utilize deeper bury depths along with sloped piping to allow drainage to prevent freeze damage.

  • Use brass/PVC components – Opt for sprinkler heads and valves made of rust-resistant brass, PVC, or other non-corrosive materials when possible.

  • Add shut-off valve – Install an automatic water shut-off valve triggered by leaks or unusual flow to minimize water damage.

  • Update coverage – If doing renovations or adding a more elaborate irrigation system, contact your insurer to update dwelling coverage limits.

How to File an Irrigation System Claim

If your irrigation system sustains damage, follow these steps for filing an insurance claim:

  1. Document the damage – Take dated photos and videos capturing the overall scope of damage. Get written damage assessments from irrigation repair contractors.

  2. Determine cause – Identify what specific peril caused the damage based on weather records, police reports, etc. Your claim has the best chance of approval if you can pinpoint a covered cause.

  3. Contact insurance company – Notify your insurer of the loss right away. Provide detailed documentation on the cause, nature and extent of damage.

  4. Work with claims adjuster – Walk the claims adjuster through the irrigation system damage in-person. Provide any supplemental documentation requested.

  5. Get repair estimates – Have qualified irrigation repair contractors provide estimates for the costs to repair or replace damaged components. Submit to the adjuster.

  6. Negotiate claim – Be prepared to justify why the claimed amount is reasonable and how it directly relates to the incident. You may need to go back and forth before settling.

  7. Receive payment – Once approved, the insurer will issue payment for the agreed upon claim amount, less any applicable deductible.

  8. Complete repairs – Finally, use the claim funds to complete irrigation system repairs or replacement to restore full functionality.

Examples of Irrigation System Claims

To better understand how the claims process works for irrigation system damage, here are two examples of covered losses:

Windstorm Claim Example

  • A severe thunderstorm with 70+ mph winds strikes the area during the spring growing season. Several above-ground irrigation components are damaged on John’s property, including bent pop-up sprinkler heads, broken irrigation pipes, and damaged valves.

  • John thoroughly documents all irrigation system damage on his property immediately after the storm with photos, videos and contractor repair estimates totaling $2,800.

  • He reports the claim to his insurer providing weather reports clearly showing wind speeds during the storm event.

  • The insurer approves John’s claim as wind damage is a covered peril, and pays out $2,500 after applying John’s $500 deductible.

Vandalism Claim Example

  • Amy finds that her backyard irrigation system equipment has been damaged over the weekend with valves broken off, wiring cut, and the backflow preventer stolen.

  • She files a police report for vandalism and provides copies to her insurer along with photos of the damage. Repair estimates from irrigation contractors come to $3,200.

  • Since vandalism is a covered loss, Amy’s insurer approves her claim for the full $3,200 without applying a deductible.

  • With the claims payment, Amy is able to repair the damage and replace components like the backflow preventer to restore her system.

The Bottom Line

Protecting your irrigation system investment should be part of your overall homeowners insurance strategy. While coverage varies, most standard policies provide coverage for sudden and accidental irrigation system damage from many common perils subject to your coverage limits.

Understand exactly what causes of loss are covered or excluded under your specific policy. Take preventative measures through regular maintenance and using durable materials to avoid unnecessary damage. And know how to effectively file an irrigation system damage claim in the event you need repairs.

With the right home insurance policy and some proactive care, you can keep your irrigation system protected from unforeseen damage and out-of-pocket repair expenses.

What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?


Does having a sprinkler system lower home insurance?

Homeowners will also find that the fire sprinkler system can provide a generous discount on insurance. A recent poll of property and casualty insurers by HFSC showed that discounts as high as 35% are offered for homes with sprinklers.

Does home shield cover sprinklers?

To further safeguard your home and budget, consider signing up for an American Home Shield® home warranty. Though we don’t provide coverage for garden sprinklers, we do cover parts of up to 23 home systems and appliances when they break down due to wear and tear.

What is sprinkler coverage in insurance?

Sprinkler leakage coverage is for property damage caused by the accidental discharge or leakage of water or other substances from automatic sprinkler systems.

Which of these are not usually covered by homeowners insurance?

Standard homeowners insurance does NOT cover damage caused by flooding, earthquakes, termites, mold, or normal wear and tear.

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