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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Sewer Backup?

Homeowners insurance policies cover most water damage as long as it’s sudden and accidental. Millions of households in the US are experiencing flood conditions that can cause extensive structural damage to the home. Flood conditions aren’t always caused by floods and hurricanes but they can be caused by a sewer backup. Sewer backups can cause significant damage to the home and they’re quite expensive to fix. This is why you must have the right flood coverage. This guide will focus on the way homeowners insurance treats sewer backups, what’s covered, optional coverage, and how to file a successful claim.

Does homeowners insurance cover sewer backup? Yes, homeowners insurance covers sewer backup if the specific coverage is added to your policy. Sewer backup coverage is available as an endorsement that costs between $50-150 per year and can be added to your policy. This endorsement covers sewer backup damage from sump pump failures, pipelines, tree roots, and other causes. The insurance company can add this endorsement to any homeowners policy such as HO-3 or HO-5 insurance.

Top Causes Of Sewer Backup

There are many causes that lead to a sewer backup. The wastewater from your home has to arrive at the city’s sanitary sewer via pipelines, but these pipelines are blocked by certain things along the way. When there’s a blockage, the waste is returned directly to your home causing an unpleasant situation. The following are the most common causes of sewer backups:

Sump Pump Failures

The sump pump can fail and cause a sewer backup. This is the main cause of sewer backups because the sump pump is responsible for dispersing the water that prevents your basement from flooding. If the pump malfunctions at a certain point, it can cause thousands of dollars of damage to the basement. A sewer backup endorsement will cover the damage of sump pump failures but it won’t cover the replacement of a sump pump.

Outdated Sewer Systems

Similar to outdated pipes, older sewer systems built over 40 years ago can cause significant problems to the sewage. This is not your fault. As the systems start aging, they become susceptible to backups and other issues.

City Pipelines

If the city uses combined pipelines for the sewer and storm drainage, you could have sewer backup problems during a storm if the system is overflooded. This actually creates major issues for the community as a whole.

City Sanitary Blockage

The main sanitary location can be blocked and if the blockage is not detected in a timely manner, the sewage from the main can leak back to people’s homes and even businesses via the flood drains. This backup doesn’t happen as fast as a storm flood backup, making it easier to identify and prevent on time. If the water is penetrating your home at a fast rate, you can call in city workers and report the problem instantly.

Tree Root Blockage

Trees have roots that are larger than the size of the tree above ground which means they can stretch underground and find their way through cracked pipes. If a tree root penetrates an old pipe, it can grow there and cause a blockage. If you have a tree on your property, the responsibility of maintaining pipes and taking care of the roofs falls on you. Plumbers can check pipes to make sure they’re not affected by trees on your property.

Basement Water

In some cases, the sewer backup is not related to the city’s sanitary system. If you live in an older home, there’s a chance that your foundation is compromised and can lead to water leaks. If this is not corrected, rainwater could make its way through the soil directly to your basement by flowing towards and entering through the foundation wall. This holds true on older buildings that have cracks in the foundation. Foundations and basement walls are built from cement and the cement can deteriorate over many decades, making it prone to water leaks. This can cause water to show up in a basement that never had a water problem. The problem accentuates during heavy rainstorms.

The drainage in your home can be proved by calling a problem to make sure the water drains away from your building. If you want to be extra sure the water won’t be able to penetrate your basement, hire an insulation specialist to water-seal the basement.

Why You Need Water Backup Coverage

The standard homeowners insurance policy will not cover you for flooding and you’ll have to purchase flood insurance as an endorsement. This is especially the case if you live in one of 19 states along the Atlantic and Gulf coast. Moreover, even these policies won’t cover you for a sewer backup unless you purchase a separate endorsement. A water backup endorsement is necessary because it protects your home from all potential flood damage. The average water backup endorsement provides coverage for the following:

  • Sewer or drain backups.
  • Sump pump (or related equipment) failures. If the overflow occurred due to mechanical issues on a pump, you’ll be covered.
  • Other systems that the home uses to remove subsurface water from the foundation.

Water backup coverage also goes under different names. Your insurer might sell it as “sump pump backup coverage” or “sewer backup coverage” and it can be added on all homeowners insurance. We guarantee your insurer will offer this coverage because water backups are such a common problem that every insurance company offers it as an optional coverage. It’s a high-value coverage and it can cost less than $100 a year to be added to your current plan.

Costs Of Sewer Backup Coverage

The costs to add sewer backup coverage to your plan can vary greatly but should not be more than $200/year. The protection amounts vary depending on the insurer. Sewer backups can cause significant damage to the basement and drain pipes in your home. The average water backup coverage provides between $10,000-25,000 worth of damage. 

There are few coverage plans offering $5,000 coverage and these can be as cheap as $25/year to add to your policy, but they may not be enough to cover serious damage. If you live in a state with lots of annual rainfall, avoid the cheap policies because you may end up paying tens of thousands of dollars for excess damage. There are deductibles when filing claims for sewer backup damage. The average deductible is $500, but it can also be as low as $250 for all water-damage-related claims (depending on the insurer).

  • The average sewer backup endorsement costs $70/year and provides $10,000 worth of coverage. We recommend spending $150-200/year on this endorsement for maximum coverage.

As a last note, we recommend purchasing excess coverage because if the sewer line leading to your home breaks, it doesn’t just ruin the pipes but it also ruins the flooding and walls. If you have furniture and valuables in the basement, it’s even worse. To replace an outdated sewer, you’re looking at costs between $100-200 afoot. 

If the average household were to replace their sewer line, it could cost them around $20,000-30,000 total. Combine that with cleanup costs that amount to $7/sq. ft. on average, and you really need all the coverage you can get. The bottom line is that it costs a small fortune to clean up the damage and replace your old sewer system which is why you should opt for maximum coverage on this endorsement.

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