More on Home Insurance
More on Home Insurance
Water backup coverage is one of the most useful homeowners insurance endorsements, protecting your home and personal property from sewage or sump pump backups.
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A standard homeowners insurance policy covers certain types of water damage as long as it’s sudden, accidental, and originated on the insured property. That means water damage caused by a burst pipe or broken HVAC or protective sprinkler system would all be covered under standard coverage. Wind-driven rain that enters your home through an opening (like a hole in your roof or window) that was caused by an insured peril would also be covered.
However, several common causes of water damage aren’t covered by homeowners insurance. Flooding, surface water, water that seeps up from the ground, and water that backs up through sewers or drains or overflows through a sump pump are all excluded from coverage. To supplement this gap in coverage, many insurance companies offer separate flood insurance to cover flood disasters, but what about more common household issues like sewer and sump pump backups?
Luckily, most insurance companies offer additional coverage for that too—commonly referred to as water backup coverage.
Water backup coverage protects your home and personal property from water damage as a result of sewage or sump pump backups
Sewer backups occur for a number of reasons, namely, aging sewers, combined pipelines, tree roots, and sanitary main blockages
You can add a water backup coverage endorsement to your policy for as little as $30 a year
Water backup coverage, also called sewer or sump pump backup coverage, is one of the more popular and useful homeowners insurance endorsements that you can add to your policy. Since water backups are such a common and pesky problem, just about every company offers this coverage enhancement, and it's a fairly high-value add-on, costing as little as $30 a year on top of your standard coverage.
Coverage amounts and availability of this endorsement vary from company to company and state to state, but companies generally offer anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 in water backup protection. When deciding on coverage amounts, factor in what it’d cost to replace everything that’s at risk of being destroyed in a worst-case drain backup or sump pump overflow scenario. Add up the cost of replacing your flooring, the value of your furniture or personal belongings, and anything else that’d be at risk of damage in the event of a sewer or drain backup.
Water backup coverage costs anywhere from $30-70 annually for $5,000 of coverage, and $25-35 for each additional $5,000 in coverage that you add to your policy, according to Fabio Faschi, property and casualty team lead at Policygenius. You generally have to pay a deductible in order to receive a claim payout for a sewer backup claim. Depending on your insurer, sewer backup deductibles may be equal to your standard deductible amount ($1,000, for instance) or they may offer a special water backup deductible as low as $250.
A standard water or sewer backup coverage endorsement reimburses you for water damage to the structure of your home or personal property if it’s discharged or overflows from the following:
However, there are a number of exclusions to be aware of with this endorsement. For one, it won’t pay to repair or replace a broken sump pump—you’ll need equipment breakdown coverage for that. Additionally, it doesn’t cover water damage that results from flooding, surface water, waves, tsunamis, tidal water, or overflow of any body of water including your pool.
Water backup coverage also won’t cover overflow or backups that can be chalked up to routine maintenance issues or negligence. For example, if the water damage was a result of a broken sump pump or forgetting to turn one on, your insurance company may deny your claim.
Water backup coverage is among the most essential and widely-utilized homeowners insurance coverage enhancements—and for good reason.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the number of reported sewer backups is increasing at a rate of around 3% annually. Furthermore, the country’s 500,000-plus miles of sewer lines are around thirty-years-old on average.
"Water backup (coverage) is one of the most important optional coverages you can choose to have on your homeowners or renters policy,” said Faschi.
Faschi also noted that, since you have the choice to opt in to this coverage, it’s up to you to consider whether it makes sense to you as a homeowner. He contends that it probably is, given how frequently water backups happen and how much of a headache they are to take care of on your own. “Apart from being one of the more common claims for the average homeowner, it's also one of the messiest to resolve on your own,” he said.
Here a few preventative steps you can take to prevent a sewer or sump pump backup from happening in the first place:
Pat Howard is a homeowners insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City. He has written extensively about home insurance cost, coverage, and companies since 2018, and his insights have been featured on Investopedia, Lifehacker, MSN, Zola, HerMoney, and Property Casualty 360.
Pat has a B.A. in journalism from Michigan State University.
Fabio Faschi is the property and casualty team lead at Policygenius in New York City. He's worked in the insurance and real estate industry for more than six years as an independent agent and broker representing more than 40 carriers in property and casualty products, and previously worked in real estate settlements and title insurance negotiating insurance requirements with banks, realtors, and new home buyers. Fabio's expertise on home & auto insurance has been featured on Forbes, Consumer Affairs, Realtor.com, Apartment Therapy, The Simple Dollar, SFGATE, Bankrate, and Lifehacker.
Education & Certifications
Fabio has a bachelor's degree from Seton Hall University. He is a certified Personal Lines Coverage Specialist (PLCS), Small Business Coverage Specialist (SBCS), and Commercial Lines Coverage Specialist (CLCS).
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