Water Backup and Sump Overflow – Why Do I Need It?
Written by: Brooks Clifford
Ask 10 homeowners if they have water backup and sump overflow coverage on their homeowner’s policy, and you will get seven different answers and three blank stares. Not only do most homeowners not understand this coverage, in many cases, neither does their agent or broker.
The coverage is typically excluded from most homeowner’s policies, but can be added back using an endorsement and paying an additional premium. In most policies the exclusion reads something like water, waterborne material or sewage which backs up through sewers or drains or which overflows or is discharged from a sump, sump pump, or related equipment.
What It Means in Real Life
Imagine the following scenario: you and the family have been away for the weekend enjoying the sun and surf. You finally arrive home on Sunday evening, unlock and open the front door, and are greeted with the smell of sewage and a soaking wet floor. Frantically, you attempt to save furniture, books, and other personal items while your wife is dialing your insurance agent.
Since it’s after hours, your call is transferred to the claims department so you can notify your company of your smelly situation. The claims representative asks you to hold while they confirm if you have the right coverage. Right coverage? After several minutes, your claims representative notifies you that water backup is excluded on your policy, and you did not purchase the endorsement to add it. Please call your agent during regular business hours for more information.
What it Covers
Water backup and sump overflow provides coverage if your property is damaged because of waterborne material or sewage that has backed up through sewers or drains. It also provides coverage for damage caused by waterborne material or sewage that overflow from a sump pump, even if the sump pump fails.
A sump pump is a device that’s designed to remove ground or subsurface water away from your foundation or basement. When they quit or breakdown, bad things can happen. Typically, when this coverage is purchased by way of endorsement (add-on), you’re provided with $5,000 in coverage subject to the deductible in the endorsement.
Why You Need It
Sewer pipes get old and fail. When that happens, the water will reverse course and flow back into your drain and cause damage. Sump pumps can also fail or become inundated with water from a storm and are unable to keep water away from the foundation or basement. So, based on this, if you have a sewer pipe and if it rains where you live, YOU NEED IT. Water backup can result in damage to drywall, floor covering, floors, furniture, personal items on the floor, and curtains. Sewer water remediation can be expensive and time-consuming, and replacing furniture, carpet, and floors can also be very expensive. Without this very important additional coverage, you’ll be paying out-of-pocket in the event of a claim.
Nationally, property and casualty insurers report that water damage is the second most prevalent reason for claims. Knowing this, every homeowner should request this coverage when purchasing insurance for their home. The additional cost for the endorsement is generally about $125 and will be money well-spent to help protect your most valuable asset.