Do I really need to get sewer backup insurance?
The comparatively low cost for the amount of protection you get is likely worth it, especially if you have a basement.
Sewage! Hardly anyone wants to talk about it, much less find sewage water bubbling up in their bathroom. But sewer and water backups can happen regardless of where you live, so homeowners need to prevent and prepare—these events can cause thousands of dollars in damage.
Standard homeowners insurance covers damage when the water originates from inside the home (like from a water heater or washing machine ), but it usually doesn’t cover damage from water/ sewer backups. For protection in such gnarly incidents, you’ll need additional coverage, sometimes called a rider. The good news is that the average cost is $50 to $250 a year—arguably inexpensive for the amount of protection you get. If you don’t want to get stuck with the bill when your sump pump fails, consider adding this overage to your home insurance policy.
Not sure about the details of your current home insurance coverage? Check your policy or call your insurance agent. They can also tell you if water backup coverage is available to add to your policy.
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Assess Your Home’s Risk for Sewage or Water Backup
Backups can occur in any home for a variety of reasons (like a blockage in your home’s drain line, obstructive tree roots, broken sewage lines, or sump pump failure ), but some homes are more at risk than others.
Homes connected to a combined sewer system are at greater risk because the same pipes that carry away raw sewage also carry away rainwater; if there’s heavy rain, the sewage and water can get back backed up and forced up into your home.
Old plumbing systems and sewer lines are also at risk of breakage. If you’re not sure about the state of your pipes or water lines, bring in a plumber, who can conduct an assessment with a scope.
Risk is especially acute in basements, though backups can cause damage in any part of a home.
The risk level of your home can inform the amount of coverage you want to buy. You should also consider what might be damaged in a worst-case scenario water backup and how much it would cost to repair and replace everything. For example, is your basement unfinished and empty or finished out with drywall and furniture?
What Does Sewer/Water Backup Insurance Cover?
This insurance helps cover the cost damage caused by the backup. You’re protected up to your policy limit, which you’ll select when you buy the insurance. It can pay to remove excess water from your home, repair damaged structures (like wood and drywall ), and replace personal property. This insurance also includes loss of use coverage, so if you have to stay somewhere else because of the damage, your living expenses will be covered.
The minimum coverage is usually around $5,000, with maximums ranging from $25,000 to $100,000. Deductibles are usually $500 to $1,000 but can be higher at the upper policy limit.
Be sure to take photos of your basement and any areas you think could possibly be affected by water or sewer backup. Make an inventory of the furniture and belongings in those areas, too. This will ensure you have documentation of what’s damaged and/or lost in the event of a backup.
What’s Not Covered?
While sewer backup coverage may pay for damage caused when the sump pump fails, it won’t cover the cost of replacing the pump—you’ll need equipment breakdown coverage for that.
It also doesn’t cover damage from flooding in your home due to rising surface water or rainwater that seeps in through cracked foundations. Consider getting a flood insurance policy for this protection.
Note that this type of insurance also won’t cover damage resulting from homeowner negligence, like not fixing your sump pump or failing to turn it on.
How Much Does Water/S ewage Backup Insurance Cost?
Good news! With most insurers, this coverage will add less than $300—sometimes as little as $50—to your annual home insurance bill. Your cost will depend on where you live and the coverage limit you choose.
A Lot of Protection for Not Much Money
Water/ sewer backups are common and expensive. If you want financial protection against the damages of these incidents, call your insurance company to ask about adding sewer/ water backup coverage to your policy.
If you like getting a lot for less, be sure to comparison shop for your home insurance with Insurify. One search can save you hundreds every year.