What Is Water & Sewer Backup Coverage?

What Is Water Backup Coverage?

 

Have you ever experienced a power outage and your sump pump stops working, or have your drains in the bathroom or kitchen overflowed? If so, the damage and clean-up would be covered by the Water and Sewer Backup coverage on your homeowners policy. This coverage is added to your homeowners policy to cover damage that results from the sewer backing up into your home from your plumbing, drains, or sump pump failure (power outage or mechanical failure).

Here are a few examples of how Water and Sewer Backup coverage can protect your home:

The toilet overflows, sewage, and water cause damage to the flooring and drywall. The damage could be more extensive if the bathroom is upstairs, especially to the ceiling as the water flows to the downstairs areas.

There is a power outage, and the sump pump in the basement stops working or is overloaded by heavy rainfall. Water backup coverage will even cover you if the sump pump has a mechanical failure and stops working.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?

 

Water damage to homes and property can happen in many different ways, and it is essential to be sure you have the right coverage on your homeowners policy to cover you if damage occurs.

Water damage from plumbing or drains backing up, or sump pump failure (mechanical or power outage) is covered if you add water and sewer backup coverage endorsement to the homeowners insurance policy. 

If a pipe bursts and causes water damage to your property is covered by the homeowners policy. However, should a pipe leak over time and cause water damage, typically, homeowners insurance policies will not cover this damage. However, Travelers Insurance Company offers limited "hidden water damage" coverage and the protection for the water damage from a slowly leaking pipe can be added to the homeowners policy.

If your property sustains damage during a flooding event, the flood and water damage are excluded and not covered by the homeowners policy. To protect your property from flood damage, you should purchase flood insurance. Usually, there is a 30-day wait period for this coverage to start. If you need flood coverage, it is best to have it in advance.

Does Water & Sewer Backup Coverage Cover Sump Pump Overflow?

If your sump pump fails from either a power outage or mechanical failure, the water damage that occurs to your basement finish or contents is covered by the water and sewer backup coverage on your homeowners insurance policy.  If you have a finished basement, it is important to consider more coverage to remediate, repair, or rebuild your basement if it is damaged after a sump pump overflow event.   Coverage limits for water and sewer backup coverage are generally in multiples of $5000, for instance, we recommend carrying at least $25,000 water backup coverage if you have a finished basement.  Additionally, you should always have a backup sump system installed if you finished, or are planning on finishing your basement.  Preferred sump pump backup systems are:

  • Battery backup system - these are the easiest to install and can be purchased at your local hardware store.

  • Water-powered backup system - installed by a licensed plumber, this system uses the main water line to power a secondary sump pump, should the first pump fail.

  • Home generators (gas powered or whole home generator)

  • Secondary back-up sump pump systems

How Much Water Backup Coverage Do I Need?

The coverage is limited on homeowners policies and is usually up to a predetermined coverage amount, for instance, $5000 up to $50,000. However, if you have a finished basement, I recommend choosing a higher coverage amount, such as $25,000, to cover the flooring and drywall of the finished area.

It’s also worth noting that the coverage is excluded if you don’t add it to the homeowners policy. This means there is no coverage for water and sewer backup damage unless you add this to the policy.

Water Backup Coverage vs Flood Insurance 

Water and sewer backup coverage is not flood coverage. Flood damage occurs when water flows from above ground into your home. Flood coverage is available on a separate policy and is always excluded from the homeowners policy.

Should You Purchase Water & Sewer Backup Coverage?

The bottom line: The homeowners policy does not cover water and sewer backup damage unless the coverage is added to the policy. So be sure to add at least the $5000 coverage, which is the minimum amount of coverage. If you have a finished basement, we recommend $25,000 to $50,000, depending on the level of your basement finish.

If you have any questions on water and sewer backup coverage or would like to review your homeowners policy, we are always here to help.