The problem

Water-related losses are among the top five common causes of home damages in the United States, accounting for roughly 11 percent of homeowners’ insurance claims. A small, 3-millimeter crack in a pipe can spray more than 250 gallons of water a day. This can ruin floors, carpets, furniture, and irreplaceable personal belongings.

Homes in warmer climates are usually at greater risk, because pipes often run through uninsulated or underinsulated attics or crawl spaces. When temperatures in southern climates dip below 20°F (-6°C), pipes can freeze and burst. Pipes can freeze anywhere due to exposure from cracks or holes in siding or being placed in outside walls with inadequate insulation. The materials and methods used for indoor residential plumbing continue to evolve since its inception hundreds of years ago. Are the new materials and methods emerging more (or less) reliable? What are the risks of failure and potential water damage to the home?

State Farm involvement

State Farm has conducted water damage-related research since the 1990s. These investigations spanned the breadth of residential plumbing devices and water-consuming appliances. While modes of failure for individual plumbing devices had unique mechanical nuances, general themes of failure emerged from these product investigations. The common modes of failure were and continue to be:

  • Design error
  • Manufacturing error
  • Misapplication
  • Installation error
  • Operating error
  • Neglect/Maintenance
  • Utility (Supply) interruption (e.g., power outage)
  • Environmental event (e.g., temperature extremes)

The impact

State Farm built a vast amount of knowledge on water-related losses through its research on topics such as frozen pipes, sump pumps, and appliances. This information helps inform business decisions and educate customers and the general public.