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When the Sewer Water Hits the Fan

By September 15, 2017Personal

Tree roots. Aging sewer lines. Torrential rainstorms. Blocked municipal lines. These can all lead to sewer backups and it is not a pretty (or pleasant smelling) situation. When the sewer backs up into a home, damage to floors, walls, furniture, and electrical systems can lead to a significant claim.

But you’ve got Homeowners Insurance, right?

The Bad News

Many standard home insurance policies do not cover this kind of damage or may carry insufficient limits on the property in question.

Simply put, this could make a sewer backup into a very messy — VERY EXPENSIVE — disaster.

The Good News

Adding an endorsement to specifically address this type of catastrophe is generally fairly inexpensive—potentially only $40 or $50 per year. Given that small price tag, it just doesn’t make sense to NOT make sure your home will be covered.

Here’s what you need to know to be ready for a Sewer Backup.

Start with a good Homeowners Policy

Having a solid Homeowners Policy will be helpful in this situation. Even though they don’t usually cover sewer backup damage to your property, these policies generally offer Loss of Use coverage, which helps to pay for expenses incurred by living outside of your home while it is uninhabitable or the loss of rental income if you’re insuring as a landlord.

Adjust the Limit in Coverage on Sewer Backup Endorsement

Having coverage is one thing but having the RIGHT amount of coverage is another thing entirely. Make sure your Limit in Coverage reflects home improvements, such as finished basements. Make sure the Limit in Coverage is reasonable and sufficient given your property so that the limit doesn’t run out before the cost of repairs. Your Compass Insurance Partners agent can help you with this.

Document Everything

Frequently take photos and videos of your property so that, should something disastrous like a sewer backup occur, you can document your property prior to the damage. Also, take photos of the damaged areas to reference when making a claim. Keep receipts related to repairs and cleaning.

Know Your Responsibility

Did you know that homeowners are responsible to repair and maintain the sewer lateral–generally the pipeline between the house/building and the street? Taking small and large steps to care for your pipes will help avoid backups to the extent that you can.

  • Don’t dispose of grease down your drains. It will cool and solidify, potentially causing blockages in the pipes.
  • Don’t put anything paper down the toilet except for toilet tissue. It is specially designed to be safe in pipes. Other products can cause problems.
  • Consult a skilled and licensed plumber. Replacing old pipes with plastic ones that resist tree roots or installing a backwater prevention valve, as well as making sure all sewer connections are legal and proper can mitigate the risk of sewer backup.

Despite your best efforts to be a responsible homeowner, sometimes factors that you just can’t control, like damage to one of the more than 500,000 miles of sewer lines that are 30+ years old, can lead to a sewer backup. Purchasing a Sewer Backup Coverage Endorsement can give you some precious peace of mind.

And in the unfortunate event that you do have a sewer backup, the only thing you really have to remember is to call your Compass Insurance Partners Agent. 

We’ll answer your questions and walk with you through the claim and recovery. You won’t have to do it alone, even when the sewer water (quite literally) hits the fan.