In many areas of the country, a working HVAC system is an essential system for comfort and quality of living. Maintenance costs are a typical part of owning an HVAC, or AC unit, and eventually, a replacement system may be needed. Although you may be able to use a home warranty for certain services, repairs or replacement, homeowners insurance generally does not cover maintenance or normal wear and tear of the system, unless it is damaged by a covered peril in your policy.

When does homeowners insurance cover AC?

Your HVAC system may be covered under the dwelling coverage or personal property coverage portion of your homeowners policy if the damage or loss results from a covered peril, depending on your policy and limits.

In the following circumstances, you may be reimbursed by your homeowners insurance company for repairs or replacement of your AC:

Some weather-related damage

Your AC unit may be covered up to your policy limits if it’s damaged by hail, high winds or lightning. This may include if a tree falls on your AC unit. However, many perils, like flood and earthquake damage, are typically excluded from most homeowners policies, so if your AC experiences damage from an excluded peril, you may not be reimbursed.

Some insurance companies offer coverage for earthquakes and floods, which could also include a separate policy. If you are interested in this coverage, you may want to contact your insurance agent or company.

Fire and water damage

If there is a fire in your home or a pipe bursts suddenly and your AC needs to be repaired or replaced as a result, the damage may be covered by your homeowners insurance policy. If water damage results from flooding or sewer backup as a cause of loss, your unit may not be covered as these are typically excluded from standard home insurance policies.

Theft and vandalism

Although typically a less likely cause of damage, if your AC unit is damaged as a result of vandalism or theft, the damage or loss may be covered. Theft and vandalism typically requires filing a police report before you can file a claim.

When does homeowners insurance not cover AC?

Most modern air conditioners are built to last upwards of 15-20 years, but as with all regularly-used home items, they will eventually break down due to age. Since homeowners insurance is designed to cover unexpected perils, it is not intended to help if your window unit or AC system needs to be repaired due to general wear and tear. A home warranty, however, may serve this purpose.

Home warranties may be a valuable supplement to a homeowners insurance policy by providing financial compensation for items that deteriorate over time. Home warranty claims are typically only denied because of owner neglect, improper servicing or installation or because the damage is covered by a homeowners insurance policy. Additionally, a home warranty will not typically cover unexpected events like lightning. But if a component or even your entire unit needs to be repaired or replaced due to wear and tear, home warranties are designed to cover the expense.

Neither your home warranty nor your homeowners insurance policy will typically cover you if you damage your AC unit or if you fail to properly maintain the system. For example, if it is determined that you never changed your air filter, even your home warranty will likely not cover the breakdown of your AC. Some home warranties won’t cover standalone units unless you opt to purchase appliance coverage separately.

With home insurance, coverage exclusions typically apply in the opposite sense. Repairs resulting from circumstances other than routine use are commonly excluded from warranties but may be covered by homeowners policies. And repairs from wear and tear are generally excluded from homeowners policies but are specifically covered by home warranties in most cases.

Source of damage Covered by homeowners insurance? Covered by home warranty?
Fire Yes No
Internal Water Damage Sometimes No
Lightning Yes No
Flood Damage No* No
Earthquake Damage No* No
War or Nuclear Hazard No No
Theft or Vandalism Yes No
Wear and Tear No Yes
Neglect No No

*If you purchase coverage for earthquakes or floods, you may have coverage under that policy or endorsement. Without this extra coverage in place prior to the breakdown of your AC unit, you will not have coverage under your homeowners insurance policy.

Additional coverage types for AC units

While coverage for your AC system under your homeowners insurance policy will vary, there are other forms of coverage available that you can add to build a more robust policy.

  • Equipment breakdown coverage: One way to financially protect your home’s systems and appliances, including your AC unit and HVAC system, is by purchasing equipment breakdown coverage, which can pay to repair or replace appliances and systems if they fail unrelated to a covered peril.
  • Flood insurance: Standard insurance policies do not cover flood damage, but adding a flood endorsement or standalone policy provides financial protection for your home, including your AC system, if it is damaged during a flooding event such as a storm surge, snowmelt or heavy rainfall.
  • Earthquake insurance: Like flood insurance, earthquake damage is not covered by standard home policies. Many carriers offer earthquake insurance as an endorsement. In earthquake-prone regions, you may need a standalone policy.
  • Water backup coverage: Damage caused by standing water and sewage backup can cause significant trouble, but this peril is not included in standard policies. This endorsement provides additional coverage in case of a backup.

While these are some of the most common endorsements for added AC system coverage, add-ons will vary by carrier, so speaking with your insurance agent may help you determine how to best financially protect your AC unit.

How to file a homeowners insurance claim for your AC

The fine print of your homeowners insurance policy will likely list the coverage types that may apply to your AC system. If there is any part of the policy that you do not understand, you could reach out to your insurance agent or company for clarification. Your insurance company may help you make an informed decision on coverage types and limits and what may be excluded from the policy.

If you experience damage to your AC and have confirmed it is covered under your homeowners insurance policy, here are a few tips that may be helpful to keep in mind when you file a claim:

  1. Take pictures of visible damage.
  2. Get a copy of the police report, if applicable to the cause of loss.
  3. Write down your unit’s model and serial number.
  4. Call your homeowners insurance provider or file a claim online.
  5. Meet with the insurance adjuster.
  6. Keep your receipts for the necessary repairs.
  7. Submit your receipts to your homeowners insurance provider for reimbursement.

Each insurance provider is different, so depending on your provider, you may need additional documents or steps to file a claim. To verify any additional requirements, it may be best to speak with an agent.

Frequently asked questions

    • Your homeowners insurance may cover AC unit leaks that cause water damage. Typically, homeowners insurance will not cover the cause of the leak but will pay for the damage the leak causes. For example, if a pipe bursts and causes water damage, the damage is often covered but the pipe replacement will not be covered.
    • The cost to replace an outside AC unit can vary widely, depending on where you live, the brand and the size. Expect to pay between $4,350 and $12,000 to replace an outside AC unit, which includes permit fees and labor. Just like shopping around may help you find the best rate for the homeowners insurance coverage you need, shopping around for service work around your home may also help you save when you need system repairs and replacement.
    • Some home insurance companies offer endorsements for additional home appliance coverage. Also called equipment breakdown coverage, these endorsements may extend coverage for your AC system to cover mechanical or electrical breakdown. Alternatively, you could consider a home warranty policy. Speaking with a licensed insurance agent may help you decide what the best course of action is for adding coverage for your AC system.