Guide on Sewer Backup Coverage
Depending on where you live, including sewer backup coverage on your home insurance policy may be a wise decision. Keep reading to learn more about what this coverage entails, how much it costs, and how to go about purchasing it.
What is Sewer Backup Coverage?
Sewer backup coverage can alleviate the financial burden of sewer backup cleanup. For example, it often covers expenses such as those associated with:
Repairing or replacing walls, flooring, ductwork, and damaged belongings
Decontaminating your home (sewer water can carry bacteria like E. Coli)
Relocating (including temporarily) if the backup renders your home uninhabitable
Most people don’t have tens of thousands of dollars lying around to cover these expenses out-of-pocket, which is why sewer backup insurance is so popular in at-risk areas.
Do You Need Sewer Backup Insurance?
If you own a home, sewer backup insurance is a very affordable way of protecting yourself against a threat that could otherwise cripple you financially.
The average cost of repairing a flooded basement (which is a common byproduct of sewage backups) is $43,000, according to Canadian Underwriter. Standard home insurance policies typically don’t include coverage for flooding caused by sewage backups, either, so that’s money homeowners without backup coverage find themselves on the hook for.
Don’t think sewage backups occur only in homes with basements, either. Even apartments on higher floors can be damaged by backups.
While the building’s insurance (which individual apartment owners contribute to via condo fees) will generally cover some of the damage, an additional policy is generally required to take care of damage to personal belongings and installations such as custom cabinets.
The One Exception
There is one scenario in which you don’t need sewer backup insurance: when you’re renting. In this case, your landlord will be responsible for taking out a policy that protects their property.
You still need tenant insurance to cover the cost of replacing your belongings and, if necessary, relocating, though. But as far as repairing damage to the property, you as the renter don’t need insurance for that.
Sewer Backup Causes
Next, let’s take a look at the most common sewer backup causes.
Aging Sewer System
If your neighborhood has an old sewer system, an eventual backup is more likely to happen. Older sewage pipes were often made of cast iron or even clay that starts to crack at a certain point.
Newer pipes are typically made from plastic that is less likely to crack the same way those materials can.
While builders typically keep plenty of clearance between tree roots and sewage pipes at the time of construction, those roots can easily take over as time goes on.
Sewage backups can happen if they end up rupturing a pipe near your home.
Using Harsh Chemicals
Pouring harsh chemicals like Draino or Liquid-Plumbr down your drain can actually weaken your sewage pipes over time, making backups more likely.
Putting Non-Flushable Items in the Toilet
Toilets are designed to flush human waste and toilet paper. Putting anything else (including facial tissues, paper towels, and solid objects) can damage your sewage lines, making a backup all the more likely.
Be conscious of what you put in your garbage disposal, too. Even items soft enough for the teeth to chew can damage your pipes later on.
Clogs in the City Line
This is another potential issue that’s out of your control. If something is clogging the municipal lines near your home, a backup is likely.
Average Cost of Sewer Backup Insurance
As mentioned earlier, sewage backup insurance is quite affordable, costing anywhere from $10 to $250 per year depending on the amount of coverage you need.
To get quotes at the lower end of the spectrum, you generally need to have a backwater valve involved. This is a piece of equipment that only allows sewage to flow out of your home, greatly reducing the likelihood of a backup.
What to do if a Sewage Backup Occurs
While you won’t be able to handle all the fallout of a sewage backup on your own, there are some initial steps you should take to reduce the damage.
Here are a few telltale signs that you’re experiencing a sewage backup:
Water is leaking from your basement floor drains
You notice a terrible smell from your drains
Toilets aren’t flushing properly
Several drains appear to be clogged
Your sinks and toilets are bubbling
If you notice these signs, immediately disconnect your home’s water supply and contact a plumber. You should also consider getting in touch with your municipality since they may send an inspector out to evaluate the situation.
If you arrive home to find that your home is flooded as a result of a sewage backup, you’re really dealing with an emergency situation. Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot you should do in this scenario as the dirty water flooding your hope represents a biohazard.
You should contact an emergency plumbing service along with your municipality. If you have sewage backup insurance, get in touch with the provider to start a claim.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is a sewer backup covered by homeowner’s insurance?
Sewage backups are generally not covered by standard home insurance policies. Rather, you’ll need to pay for additional coverage.
How much does sewer line insurance cost?
Sewer line insurance generally costs between $10 and $250 per year depending on the amount of coverage you need. This is quite affordable relative to the protection you receive.
Is it worth getting water and sewer line insurance?
Given the low cost of these services relative to what you’d pay for repairs, it’s absolutely worth it.
What happens if your sewer backs up?
If your sewer backs up and you don’t treat the issue promptly, water will end up overflowing from fixtures such as your sinks, toilets, and other drains.
Does sewer backup insurance have a deductible?
Sewage backup insurance does typically come with a deductible. A $1,000 deductible is standard but you can go higher if you feel confident in your ability to cover more than that.