Does your home insurance policy cover sewer backup?
Home insurance claims for water damage are common. But depending on what caused the damage, there can be coverage exclusions that many homeowners aren’t aware of. Some types of water damage are covered under a standard home insurance policy, while others require additional coverage.
Sewer backup insurance is a great option if you live in a low-lying area and have concerns about flooding in your home. Otherwise, you may find your existing policy offers the coverage you need for unpredictable or sudden water damage.
What is sewer backup?
Sewer backup occurs when a city or municipal drainage system overflows and sends water back through the pipes and into your home — most likely your basement. This may happen for a variety of reasons, but the most common is severe weather, especially sudden downpours of rain that overwhelm the sewer system. Backups can also occur if a sump pump or backflow prevention valve hasn’t been installed, as both are designed to deal with excess water. A flood of water and sewage can come from the main sewer line or combined storm and sanitary sewers.
Sewer backup can cause a great deal of damage to your home and health due to the mould and bacteria that can form and accumulate. And it requires immediate clean-up, which can be quite costly if you’re repairing damage to carpets, walls, furniture, and other personal property.
What can sewer backup insurance cover?
Sewer backup insurance can cover water damage that arises from unexpected sewer flooding — something a standard home insurance policy does not. Some homes are more likely to need this optional coverage if they’re below sea level and more prone to flooding. Home insurance policyholders who live in low-lying areas are therefore more likely to have sewer backup coverage offered to them by their insurance provider.
Without this added policy coverage, you could discover you have little to no coverage in the event of a serious flood. The cost to repair a flooded basement can easily reach into the tens of thousands. Whereas the cost of adding sewer backup coverage to your policy is minimal in comparison to the repair costs, especially if you live in a location where sewer backup is an issue. Again, this coverage is optional, but it may be recommended by your home insurance provider if you live in a high-risk area.
Avoiding sewer backup
Prevention is always better than dealing with damage even if you do have the coverage in place to pay the claim. There are several things you can do to prevent sewer back-up damage in your home:
- Install sump pumps and check regularly to ensure they are in good working order
- Have a backflow valve installed in your home (the valve automatically closes if there is a backup from the main sewer line)
- Ensure that your property has good drainage — a slope that moves away from your home is best
- Have plugs ready for all drains and toilets
- Keep your eavestrough and downspout clean and clear to allow proper drainage
In extreme cases, backup might not be preventable, but the damage can at least be minimized with these precautions.
A surprising number of homeowners are not aware that sewer back-up is not a standard part of a home insurance policy. It’s vital that you secure the proper coverage for your home promptly, before your home is filled with sewer water. You should also find out whether you live in a high-risk area, which can help you decide if added coverage is necessary.
If you’re thinking of adding this coverage to your existing policy, shopping around for a better home insurance rate can help you get the lowest premium possible with your new coverage. You may discover you can pay the same or less for a policy that includes sewer backup from one company than you would for a policy without the coverage elsewhere.
After all, the cost of optional coverage is low when it comes to your peace of mind.
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