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Homeowners insurance and sewer backups
Not all water damage is the same. Washing machines and bathtubs can overflow. Heavy rain can cause creeks to rise and flood your home. Sewer lines can back up. Because these perils are rarely covered under a standard homeowners policy, they can present challenges to both your insurance company and your pocketbook.
The Insurance Information Institute cites a study suggesting sewer backups — sometimes referred to as “water backups” — are becoming more common. However, many homeowners are not aware they aren’t normally covered by most policies. Read on to learn more about sewer backup coverage and to find out what changes you may need to make to your homeowners policy to be fully protected.
Water backup and home insurance — table of contents:
- What is sewer backup insurance?
- What causes sewer backups?
- What does sewer backup insurance cover?
- Does sewer backup insurance cover flooding?
- How much does sewer backup coverage cost?
- Is sewer backup coverage worth it?
Sewer backup coverage helps protect your home against damages related to water that backs up through your plumbing system. Sewer backups can cause thousands of dollars in damage. Unfortunately, most homeowners are not covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy. To make sure you are adequately covered, you should seek a special sewer backup endorsement or, in some cases, a separate policy.
Most home insurance companies offer a sewer backup endorsement. This typically carries a coverage limit between $5,000 and $25,000 to cover your personal property or structural damage caused by the backup. When filing a sewer backup claim, you are often subject to a separate deductible, which can vary depending on your policy and carrier.
The pipes under your house are probably not something you think about too often unless they aren’t working properly. Along with your own plumbing system, many homeowners may not know that they are responsible for the sewer line that connects their home to the city’s sewer main. When an issue arises with these systems, backups can occur.
Below are some of the most common reasons for sewer backups:
- Tree roots: As they look for moisture underground, tree roots can find their way into older or cracked pipes, slowly causing extensive damage or blockages. Responsibility for fixing the pipes and taking care of the roots often falls to the owner of the tree. A plumber may be able to check your lines with a camera to see if there are any possible problems with tree roots.
- Older sewer systems: Aging plumbing systems can cause a lot of problems. As they get older, many systems become more susceptible to backups and other issues.
- Combined pipelines: If your city combines sewer and storm drainage lines you could see problems during a storm. Heavy rains can overwhelm the system and create water backup issues in your home.
- Blockages in the sanitary main: City sewers are susceptible to blockages as well. This usually happens over time and can result in water backing up into your home.
- Sump pump failure: Most of the time, a sewer backup endorsement will also cover damages resulting from sump pump failure. A sump pump is a device that disperses water in order to prevent your basement from flooding. If this pump fails, you can possibly face thousands of dollars in damages. Note that while it may pay for damage caused by sump pump failure, it may not cover the cost to replace the pump itself.
In general, it can cover your damages caused by water backups as well as the cost of removing excess water from your home. You are protected up to your policy limits for things like home furnishings and structural damage. However, be aware that it does not cover floods that result from rising surface water or rainwater that leaks into your basement through a cracked foundation.
Sewer backup insurance doesn’t cover damage from surface water or typical flooding. To be covered against flood damage, you would need to add a separate flood insurance policy. Flood insurance is generally available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), though some insurance companies may offer protection as well.
The average cost of home insurance policy with $20,000 in added sewer backup coverage is $1,237 annually (less than the typical annual cost of home insurance). Sewer backup coverage can be added as an endorsement to most homeowners insurance policies and typically runs from around $50 to $250 extra a year. Your cost will be determined by a number of factors in your area, including your local weather and the coverage limits that you choose.
Have a look at the average annual rates from some of the top home insurance providers below.
|Company||Average: no backup coverage||$10,000 limit||$20,000 limit||$30,000 limit||$40,000 limit|
|American Family Insurance||$1,467||$1,564||$1,623||$1,680||$1680|
Sometimes a few paper towels aren’t enough to clean up water damage from backups. This is where water backup coverage comes in. This insurance can cover damages that may otherwise leave you paying out-of-pocket. If you are currently insured, the best way to find out if your current home insurance policy covers sewer backups is to check your policy documents or contact your insurance agent directly.
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About The Zebra
The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.
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