If you asked homeowners to create a list of situations they hoped to never have to deal with at home, a sump pump failure would likely rank just underneath having a fire.

Why?

It’s a disaster.  Generally, when a sump pump fails it causes water to backup into your home, sometimes bringing all kinds of water-borne materials with it.  A water backup creates costly damage, and homeowners have to quickly arrange for cleanup and repairs to avoid further damage.  Water or sewage backup is one of the most costly and frustrating claims situations for property owners, and it’s coverage that is so often overlooked.  Considering water backup coverage is one of the most widely-used and essential homeowners insurance endorsements, we recommend you take a minute to determine if you currently have this endorsement – and if so, what level of coverage. 

Here are four reasons to add this coverage to your homeowners policy:

  1. Water backup coverage is NOT included in a standard homeowners insurance policy.

Not sure if your homeowners insurance policy includes water backup coverage?  Call your insurance agent today to inquire. 

Water backup is an optional endorsement that must be added onto a standard homeowners, condo, or renters insurance policy.  Without the endorsement, you would be stuck paying for the cost of cleanup or damages caused by a sump, sump pump, or similar equipment that’s not considered a plumbing system or household appliance. 

This coverage is one of the most overlooked endorsements on homeowners insurance policies, and so often I speak with potential clients who believe this coverage is included – even though it is not.  Standard homeowners insurance generally covers sudden and accidental water damage that originates in the home – like water damage from a burst pipe.  However, water that backs up through sewers – or drains or overflows through a sump pump – is excluded from coverage.  To supplement that gap in coverage, you’ll need a water backup coverage endorsement on your homeowners policy. 

  1. It’s fairly inexpensive.

The average cost of water backup and sewer coverage is around $30 annually, depending on the limits you select and your risk exposure. 

Different levels are available to match people’s different needs, because insurance is not one size fits all.  To determine the level of coverage that best suits your need, consider the age of your home, square footage, and consider what is in your basement.  Your basement is an area that’s more likely to flood during a water backup.  Is your basement partially or fully finished?  Do you use your basement for a storage area for expensive items?  Water backup coverage protects your home and personal property from water damage, so work with your insurance agent to choose a limit that matches your specific coverage needs.

  1. Water backups can happen to anyone.

There are many misconceptions about who is more or less likely to experience a water backup situation.  The truth is it doesn’t much matter if you live on top of a hill, if you don’t have a basement, or if your home has never had a water backup issue before.  Sewer backups occur for a number of reasons, namely, aging sewers, combined pipelines, tree roots, and sanitary main blockages.  Everyone has the potential to experience this type of loss. 

I’ve also discovered clients often believe water backup damage would be covered under a flood insurance policy, however it is not.  Flood insurance is a different type of insurance coverage.

  1. It qualifies you for Loss of Use coverage if your home is uninhabitable. 

In most cases, a sump pump failure doesn’t make your home uninhabitable – meaning, you would still be able to live in your home while it was being cleaned and repaired.  However, in the case that it does make your home uninhabitable, having water backup coverage would qualify you for Loss of Use coverage.

For example, this may apply if your furnace is damaged due to a water backup, it’s 30 degrees outside and  you can’t heat your home.  This scenario is just one example of the importance of loss of use.

Loss of Use covers additional expenses incurred as a result of the loss.  Loss of Use is vital coverage, providing coverage for additional living expenses above and beyond your normal living expenses, as well as loss of rent, if that’s the case.  So, if you a water backup makes your home unlivable, puts you and your family in a hotel for a few days and your claims adjuster approves you for Loss of Use coverage, then the cost of the hotel room would be covered. 

How to best prevent water backups

The best course of action is to avoid a water backup altogether, so to save yourself a major headache down the road, here are some tips for avoiding water backups:

  • Don’t pour cooking oil or grease down your drains
  • Do not flush paper towels or items other than bathroom tissue in your toilets
  • Install a backwater prevention valve to prevent sewer backups (note: most new homes are built with this already installed)
  • Buy a battery backup to keep your sump pump running when the power goes out, or buy a water-powered backup sump pump
  • Consult a sump pump professional, typically a plumber, tot check your sump pump for pre-existing draining system issues
  • Consider replacing your line with plastic pipe to prevent tree roots from entering it

Talk to your insurance agent to learn more about water backup coverage.  We offer multiple versions of this coverage through the insurance companies we offer for homeowners insurance.  Give us a call at 724-575-7237 for more information or specific levels of coverage available to you.

Sources:

Insurance Information Institute

Hippo Insurance

Grange Insurance