Standard homeowners insurance policies don’t often cover some perils like sewer backup. The losses, both financial and social, from a sewer backup peril can be devastating. It won’t be easy to recover without insurance coverage.
This is why sewer backup insurance is becoming common. But most homeowners insurance policyholders aren’t aware that most policies don’t usually cover sewer backups.
So, let’s find out what sewer backup insurance covers and why you need it.
What Is Sewer Backup Insurance?
Essentially, sewer backup insurance provides financial protection to your home against damages related to water that backs up (sewer backups) through your plumbing system. In many cases, sewer backup coverage is an extension, add-on, or endorsement to your regular homeowners policy.
Sewer backup insurance is also known with other names like water backup insurance and drain line backup insurance.
While sewer backups can cause serious damages worth thousands of dollars, most homeowners aren’t covered under standard homeowners insurance policies.
This is where sewer backup insurance comes in handy.
To ensure your homeowners insurance policy covers you, you need a special sewer backup endorsement. You may need a separate policy to get the sewer backup coverage in some cases.
Even with the sewer backup endorsement or policy, whether or not you qualify for coverage depends on the cause of the backup.
What Causes Sewer Backups?
You don’t often think about the pipes under your house unless they aren’t working. What many homeowners don’t know is that, along with your home’s plumbing system, you’re responsible for the sewer line connection between your home to the main sewer line.
Heavy rains, storms, snow, and age are among the factors that cause issues with these systems and result in backups:
- Heavy rainfall: Heavy rains can cause excess running water that the city’s sewer system may be unable to handle. This water may back up and overflow into your home. This especially happens due to combined sewer and storm drainage lines.
- Clogged pipes: Some of the causes of clogged drain pipes are heavy rainwater, lack of maintenance, and flushing non-degradable items in the toilet, among others. If clogs persist, they can cause sewer backups into your house.
- Tree roots: Large tree roots can get entangled with underground drainage, water, and sewer pipes and sometimes get into older or cracked pipes. This can slowly cause blockages, which can result in sewer backups.
- Older sewer system: As plumbing systems get older, they become more susceptible to many issues, including backups.
- Broken line: Direct damage to the city line that connects your home can overlap with your line and cause backups.
- Sump pump failure: A machine can fail. A sump pump, a device that disperses water to prevent flooding your basement, can fail. Your sewer backup endorsement may also cover damages that result from sump pump failures. It may only pay for damage caused and not pump replacement cost.
What Does Sewer Backup Insurance Include?
There are no specific items included in sewer backup coverage because it’s usually an endorsement. This coverage depends on the specifications of different insurance providers and the agreement you have with your insurer.
In general, sewer backup insurance provides coverage for:
- Damages to your home caused by water backups
- Cost of draining excess water and sewer from your home
- Damage and repair costs to your home’s sewer line up to the city mainline
Sewer backup coverage only protects you up to your policy limits for things like structural damage and home furnishings.
What Sewer Backup Insurance Doesn’t Cover
You need to understand what sewer backup insurance does not or may not provide coverage. This may include:
- Damages that occur gradually over time because of lack of maintenance.
- Backup that results from a faulty or damaged plumbing system in your house. Insurers see this as a lack of maintenance. Some standard dwelling coverages may include this.
- Floods or backups from rainwater or rising surface water leaking into your basement through a cracked/damaged foundation. This is also a lack of maintenance.
- Standing sewage on your home due to a fault of your municipality. Most insurers view this damage as a responsibility of the city.
Make sure you read and understand the policy before purchasing sewer backup coverage. This way, you’ll be clear on what the policy covers and what it may not cover. Consult with your insurance company or agent if you don’t understand.
Why Do You Need Sewer Backup Insurance Coverage?
Whether or not your homeowners insurance policy provides coverage for sewer backup, it’s important to understand why you need to have sewer backup coverage clearly spelled out in your policy.
So, there are three ways to help answer this question:
Why is sewer backup insurance important?
Sewer backup coverage gives you the safety and peace of knowing your home is protected in case of any sewer line mishap. You’re also protected from the damages and related financial costs of repairs and sewer water drainage costs.
Does homeowners insurance include sewer backup coverage?
A standard home insurance policy doesn’t usually include sewer backup coverage in almost all cases.
Your typical home insurance policy provides coverage for sudden and unexpected plumbing damages, such as leaking or burst pipes or a broken faucet. It doesn’t extend to the sewage system.
This means your homeowner’s insurance will not provide coverage for you if you encounter a sewer backup in your home or property.
This is why you need to add sewer coverage to your policy as a rider, an add-on, or an endorsement coverage to benefit from your insurer’s sewer protection.
Does sewer backup insurance cover flooding?
No, sewer backup coverage is distinct from and doesn’t cover flooding or surface water.
You need a separate flooding policy to get cover for flood damage, which is also often a separate insurance coverage. You can get a flood damage policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or from home insurance companies that offer flood damage protection.
Also, sewer backup insurance does not provide coverage for flood damage not directly related to your sewer line and system.
Talk to your insurance provider and understand cases where your sewer insurance can cover flood damage.
How much does sewer backup insurance cost?
The cost of sewer backup coverage depends on:
- Your type of coverage
- Your insurance company
- The cost factors of your standard home insurance policy (such as weather
The average cost of sewer backup coverage as an add-on to your home insurance policy is around $1,237 annually.
If you purchase sewer backup coverage as an endorsement to your homeowner’s insurance policy, the cost can be between $50 to $250 or above a year. The cost of sewer backup insurance will also be determined by the coverage limits you choose.
Is sewer backup insurance worth it?
Well, paper towels may not be enough to clean up the water damage from sewer backups. You’d need help to cover the costs, and water backup coverage may come in handy. If you pay these damages out of your pocket, the financial costs may be a burden. If you already have homeowners insurance, find out if it includes sewer backups as an add-on. If it doesn’t already include it, contact your insurance agent to help you include the coverage on your policy.