No matter the season, a broken furnace or air conditioning system can make for an uncomfortable living situation. Most standard homeowners’ policies cover heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems damaged in a flood or a fire. However, they might not pay if the system stops working due to normal wear and tear. Attorney Bill Voss explains insurance options for HVAC systems and how to check your policy for potential coverage.
Which Coverage Pays for Damage to the HVAC System?
If your HVAC system was damaged due to a covered peril—such as a windstorm or lightning strike—your homeowners’ insurance policy should cover the costs of repairing the damage or replacing the broken unit with an equivalent or upgraded model.
Different portions of your policy may apply to your claim depending on the cause and extent of the damage. For example, your claim may be paid under your:
If you have central air, forced-air heating, or a hydronic heating system, your HVAC system is part of the house and would be covered under dwelling insurance.
Since they aren’t installed in the home, space heaters, wall-mounted air conditioners, and window AC units are considered belongings and would be covered under personal property insurance.
Equipment Breakdown Insurance
Equipment breakdown coverage is an optional endorsement offered on a homeowners’ insurance policy. It extends coverage to your appliances, HVAC systems, and other electrical equipment that stops working due to a mechanical or electrical failure.
Coverage varies between policies, but equipment breakdown coverage may include failures from power surges, motor burnouts, short circuits, malfunctioning components, or problems caused by faulty installation. Like most add-on coverages, equipment breakdown insurance typically comes with its own deductible.
Why Your Home Heating and Cooling Claim May Be Denied
Even if your homeowners’ policy extends to your HVAC unit, your insurer probably will not pay if the damage was primarily:
Due to negligence
Your insurer pays for damages caused by a covered event only. Your claim might be denied if you made inadequate repairs that weakened the system or rarely performed maintenance.
Related to the age of the unit
Most appliances aren’t meant to last a lifetime. Insurers may refuse coverage for heating or AC units after several years.
Caused by a natural disaster
Insurers may not cover damage from widespread disasters, like earthquakes or mudslides.
If the system is still functioning, an insurer may not cover any aesthetic damage (such as pockmarks on the outdoor AC unit after a hail storm).
Filing a Successful Claim for HVAC Damage
If you’re filing a claim for your heating or cooling system, there are steps you must take to get the company to pay for the damage:
- Gather documentation. You’ll need specific information about your home’s environmental systems, including the central unit's maker, model, and serial number. You should also have a full copy of your homeowners’ policy.
- Take pictures. Take photos of the damage to show its extent and keep a written record of the effects. For example, is the AC unit dripping? Is the air conditioning weaker, or has it stopped completely? A photo of the thermostat may also help show the temperature in the room.
- Meet with the adjuster. Insurance representatives may come to assess the damage and estimate the cost of repairing or replacing the unit. They will also investigate whether something other than a covered event could have caused the damage.
- Pursue the claim. If an insurer refuses coverage or offers less than the total value of your claim, speak with an experienced insurance claims attorney about your next steps.
Let Us Help With Your Homeowners’ Property Damage Claim
Don’t accept the insurance company’s denial! The Voss Law Firm fights for residential policyholders and gets them the property damage coverage they need from an insurance provider.
Call us at (888) 614-7730 or complete our contact form today to get answers to your questions, or start reading your copy of our free book, Tricks of the Trade: How Insurance Companies Deny, Delay, Confuse, and Refuse.