Q

Q

Does home insurance cover septic tanks?

A

A

Yes, your septic tank is considered part of your home and would be covered by the dwelling coverage portion of your home insurance in the event that it is suddenly damaged.

Stephanie Nieves author photo

Stephanie Nieves

Published July 29, 2020

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The dwelling coverage portion of your home insurance can cover damage to your septic tank or damage to your property caused by your septic system

  • Service line coverage and water backup coverage are supplemental options you can add to your policy to cover the pipes attached to your tank and any damage that may be caused if one of them breaks

  • To help prevent damage, you should have your septic tank inspected by a septic service professional every three to five years

Though they’re technically outside of the home, septic tanks count as part of your home’s structure when it comes to home insurance. If your septic tank is damaged by a covered peril, the damage would be covered by the dwelling coverage component of your home insurance which is the baseline of any HO-2 or HO-3 policy.

Dwelling coverage can cover damage to the body of your septic tank and to the pipes that connect the tank and your home. Service line coverage is an additional option you can add to your policy that can help you cover broken pipes, and water backup coverage is another add-on that will cover damage caused by your septic tank backing up and overflowing into your home.

Without insurance, septic tank damage can be expensive, costing thousands of dollars for a single repair. It’s best to get your septic tank inspected every three to five years by a septic service professional to ensure that it’s running properly. There are also actions you can take inside your home to prevent your septic tank from backup.

In this article:

Does home insurance cover septic tanks?

Home insurance policies are made up of several different types of coverage that protect different parts of your property. Septic tanks are considered built-in home appliances so your septic tank would be covered by the dwelling coverage component of your homeowners insurance in the event that it is suddenly damaged. Dwelling coverage can also cover damage to your home that is caused by your septic tank.

In general, dwelling coverage insures the structure of your home and all built-in appliances from sudden damage caused by perils like fallen trees, theft and vandalism, and some natural disasters. But the damage must be sudden, meaning you couldn't have done anything to prevent it from happening.

That means that damage caused by regular wear and tear, or poor maintenance over time, would not be covered. You should consider adding service line coverage as an endorsement to your policy to expand the coverage for your septic system. Service line coverage will cover damage to the pipes attached to the septic tank caused by things like mechanical and electrical breakdown, animal damage, and corrosion. The pipes that connect your septic tank to your home may also be covered by dwelling insurance, but service line coverage can offer more coverage, especially if the pipes need to be dug-up and repaired.

When will home insurance cover a septic tank?

Homeowners insurance, specifically your dwelling coverage, will cover your septic tank if it sustains sudden damage from a covered peril. That includes freezing from extreme weather, damage caused by a car, and damage from the weight of equipment and people.

When you file a damage claim, your home insurance company will most likely assign you an adjuster who will determine what caused the damage to your septic tank. They will decide whether the damage is covered and how much your insurance company will pay out.

Certain perils, like if heavy snowfall causes your septic tank to collapse, would be covered by an HO-2 and HO-3 policy, but not an HO-1 policy, the most basic and most limited type of homeowners insurance. Most homeowners have an HO-3 policy, which covers damage caused by any peril that’s not specifically excluded from coverage in your policy.

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What damage to your septic tank is not covered?

As mentioned above, a standard homeowners insurance policy will not cover regular wear and tear to your septic tank and attached pipes; the damage must be considered sudden in order to be covered by insurance. Most homeowners policies will also not cover damage to your septic tank caused by flood and water damage, earthquakes, neglect or pests like birds, vermin or insects.

Septic tanks can last up to 40 years in good condition, but unless yours needs to be replaced due to damage from a covered peril, home insurance will not cover a routine replacement. The costs of a new septic tank can range between $3,000 and $20,000 depending on the size of the tank.

Do I need service line coverage?

Septic tanks have a few different pipes that make up the whole system, including one that transports sewage water from your home to the tank and another that delivers wastewater from the tank to a drainfield. Service line coverage is an optional endorsement you can add to your policy that covers damaged utility lines and pipes running through your property. Service line coverage can offer supplemental coverage if one of the pipes attached to your septic tank is severed or damaged.

Service line coverage can be added onto your homeowner’s policy for an additional premium of around $30 a year for $10,000 in coverage or $40 a year for $20,000 in coverage. Service line ruptures can cost as much as $2,500 to repair, so, while the coverage is an optional add-on, it’s typically a good idea to add it to your policy.

Do I need water backup coverage?

Water backup coverage is another optional endorsement you can add to your home insurance policy. It covers water damage caused by a broken sump pump or backed-up drain, which is not covered by a standard home insurance policy alone. It can help cover the cost of removing water from a flooded basement or replacing damaged furniture caused by a busted pipe attached to your septic tank.

If you’re looking for robust protection for your septic tank, dwelling coverage, service line coverage, and water backup coverage together can pay for damage to your septic tank, severed pipelines, and any damage to your home as a result of backed-up sewage or water.

Tips for maintaining your septic tank

You can prevent (or at least delay) damage to your septic tank by taking care of it regularly. A few ways to take care of your septic tank and get ahead of cesspool damage include:

  • Inspect and pump it regularly - Have your septic tank inspected and pumped once every three to five years by a septic service professional to make sure everything is working properly
  • Avoid flushing non-biodegradable objects - Non-biodegradable objects include chemicals, paints, and cooking oil among others. When flushed down a toilet or drain, they can build up and cause your septic tank to fill up faster
  • Dispose of waste properly - The only things that should ever be flushed down your toilets are human waste and toilet paper, so discard other paper goods and any non-biodegradable objects in trash cans to avoid clogging your septic tank
  • Conserve more water - Wastewater from your home gets treated in the septic tank before it’s sent to a drainfield. By using water more effectively, you give your septic tank more time to treat the water so it’s not working on overdrive

About the author

Insurance Expert

Stephanie Nieves

Insurance Expert

Stephanie Nieves is an Insurance Editor at Policygenius in New York City. She has a B.A. in writing and rhetoric and previously worked as an SEO & Editorial Associate. Her words can also be found on PayScale, Fairygodboss, and The Muse.

Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.

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