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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Septic System & Drain Fields?

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Septic Systems & Drain Fields?

If you have a septic system in your home, you know that maintaining the various parts of that system are your responsibility. Unlike sewage systems that are connected to publically maintained sewers, your system is wholly contained on your property and carries waste to a holding tank you own called a septic tank. 

These self-contained systems are essential to the function of your home, especially since you likely live in a rural area without access to centralized sewage. Despite how important it might be for your home, a septic system not structurally part of the home and is generally not covered in the replacement cost maximum on your home insurance policy.

How Do Septic Tanks Operate?

Homes without sewage access will have septic systems, which contain chemicals that breakdown waste. During the chemical processing, the waste is divided into solids and wastewater. While the solids remain within the tank itself, which can be emptied when filled, wastewater is moved to something called the drain field.

The drain field is an area where treated wastewater will be released from a system of perforated pipes. This allows further treatment of the wastewater as the drain field’s soil naturally breaks down bacteria and other contaminants. Each part of this system is essential to the health, safety, and function of your home and property, so, it’s critical that your septic system stays in good working order.

What Can Go Wrong with Your Septic Tank?

There are two ways your septic tanks can cause you to need repairs:

  1. Your septic tank fails and needs repairs itself, or
  2. Your septic tank affects or damages the house itself.

In the first scenario, your homeowners policy likely doesn’t cover those repairs. In most policies, the septic system is considered to be a separate structure from the home, and the cost to repair it isn’t included in the total repair/replacement cost of the policy. 

On the other hand, a septic system failure causes a septic back-up that floods the home is considered an entirely different scenario. Although homeowners with septic systems often need to pay out-of-pocket to repair the system itself, that’s not necessarily true if a septic system failure causes water damage to their home.

How Is Septic System Damage to Your Home Covered?

If your septic system fails and causes damage to your home itself, standard home insurance policies will cover the repairs needed. When notifying the insurer of a claim, it’s essential that you know the specific source of the problem.

Your policy will usually detail two lists of perils, excluded and non-excluded. If the damage source is not on the excluded perils list, which tends to list events like floods and earthquakes, the damage to your home will likely be covered under your policy. 

To be prepared, make sure to check if your home insurance policy thoroughly, before problems arise. In some cases, your policy may allow your septic system to fall under “other structures” coverage that includes structures like free-standing sheds, pools, and driveways.

Additional Options

You may decide that you need coverage specifically for scenarios where a septic system back-up can flood your home or property. In that case, you should consider asking your insurance company where you are considering a policy about a sewer back-up endorsement.

These are available as add-ons to standard home insurance policies, but these endorsements do not cover damage to the system itself. That goes for additional flood or earthquake insurance that you may purchase as well.

Septic Tank Maintenance

Considering how difficult it can be to get specific insurance for your septic system, make sure to prevent septic failures as much as possible by taking proper care of your septic system, and remember to:

  • Have your system inspected professionally every three to five years
  • Use high-efficiency appliances in your home (toilets, showerheads, washing machines)
  • Dispose of waste appropriately to reduce oils, toxins, and solids disposed of in the toilet and sink
  • Avoid parking cars, planting trees, or draining other water around or on your drain field

If you keep these maintenance tips in mind, you can avoid expensive and time-consuming repairs to your home and septic system from avoidable system failures and back-ups.

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