When it comes to your homeowner’s insurance policy, you should never assume coverage is there when things go wrong — like backed-up sewers, for example.
A sewage backup can cause thousands of dollars in damage to floors, walls, electrical systems, and furniture. Not to mention the terrible smell and clean-up process. While you may think this covered by your homeowner’s policy, the truth is standard policies don’t typically cover the damage. Moreover, if it is on the policy, coverage is usually very minimal.
The good news, however, is that you can add water and sewer backup coverage to your policy.
Understanding Water & Sewer Backup Coverage
Before adding this coverage to your policy, it’s essential to understand what it is and what isn’t.
First, it provides protection from the backup of water or waterborne materials through a sewer or drains.
Second, it provides protection from water or waterborne material overflowing form a sump even if the backup of water is from a mechanical breakdown of the sump pump.
Your property damage is covered, but the sump pump and any broken-down related equipment may be excluded. Check your policy or options when purchasing.
Water/Sewer Backup is Not Flood Coverage
The only thing that flood insurance and water/sewer backup coverage have in common is that they are not covered on the homeowner’s policy.
Water backup is when water or water borne debris backs up into your home through drains, sump pump, sewers or related equipment.
Flooding happens when water comes into the home through windows, doors, window wells, or cracks in the foundation. Typically caused by an overflow of rivers or lakes, excessive rainfall or even melting snow.
Remember, flooding is not covered under your homeowner’s policy or the water and sewer backup coverage.
Subsurface water from a leaking swimming pool or irrigation system that causes damage to your home is also often excluded from coverage.
How Much Coverage Should You Buy?
Typically, the average annual cost of water backup and sewer coverage is $40 to $250, depending on the risk exposure and limits you pick. Keep in mind coverage amounts and availability for water backup coverage may vary by company. Limit amounts typically range anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000. When deciding how much coverage you want, take into consideration items like electronics and furniture. Plus, any flooring and drywall materials you may need repaired or replaced if a water backup damages your home.
Ways to You Can Prevent Damage from Water and Sewer Backup
Some water damage may be unavoidable depending on the situation. That doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared. Here are a few ways you may be able to prevent water from destroying your hard-earned investments:
- Position landscaping and the irrigation system watering it, so the water flows away from your home’s foundation.
- Make sure downspouts are extended at least 10 feet away from your house.
- Keep regular maintenance of your home’s gutters and downspouts by clearing out leaves and debris.
- Also, repair any sections that may be sagging. If you can, run your sump pump every few months.
- Try cleaning it once a year before any rainy season you may have is a great idea too. If you have a basement, look at any valuables like washers, driers, water heaters, furnaces, furniture, and other personal items are away from problem areas. As a preventative measure to ensure all electrical wiring is in the proper place as well.
Remember, homeowner’s insurance is to help you get back to normal after a loss or damage. It’s not meant to provide you with free maintenance on your home! Homeowners will not cover any damage to your home caused by your failure to maintain it properly. For example, roof repair for wind damage is covered, but a roof that has gotten old will not be. If that were the situation, homeowner’s insurance would be costly. Just think if everyone got repairs done to their house each time something wore out!
It’s important to know what your policy covers and doesn’t cover so that you are not stuck paying big bills for a catastrophic event. If you have questions about what your current policy covers, please give our insurance experts a call. They will be happy to guide you through what your policy covers and doesn’t cover.