Imagine this scenario: you come home from running errands on a Saturday and walk into your kitchen to find water all over the floor. Like all over the floor.
You grab some towels to soak it up and realize it is completely helpless. Then you go downstairs and see the water seeping through the ceiling like waterfall. It was coming from the dishwasher. Something must have broken after you turned it on the run that load before heading out to do the weekly shopping. Complete mayhem!
Luckily, you have good homeowners insurance and when you call your agent puts together a claim for you and other than your deductible- the restoration is covered. Your homeowner’s insurance provides coverage for water damage that is the result of discharge or overflow of a plumbing, heating, air conditioning, or household appliance that is in your home. It will cover the pipes that leak behind your walls, floors, or ceilings. It will cover washing machines, dishwashers, and toliets that overflow.
The coverage is for the repair of your damaged property. You may have floors or carpet that need to be professionally cleaned or even torn out and replaced. You may need to have it professionally dried so that mold does not occur. You may need to tear out a portion of the wall to get to a leaking pipe to fix it- and that will be covered under your home-owners policy. However, the leaking pipe or broken appliance itself- will not be covered.
Now, imagine scenario #2:
You come home from running errands on a Saturday and it is raining. It has been raining for days and your sump pump has been running like a champ. You go down into the basement to put that extra meat into the spare freezer and take a step into…. Water.
Wait… water?? That isn’t supposed to be there!
Your sump pump has pumped its last pump. Your basement has flooded with six inches of water.
You have coverage, right???
Standard homeowners insurance policies do not necessarily include water-backup. Usually, you need to purchase this as a separate endorsement. You may need to purchase this in increments of $5,000 or $10,000 to cover back up through a sewer or drain or overflow or discharge of a sump, sump pump, or related equipment- even if the equipment suffers a mechanical breakdown. For example, if that sump pump’s motor breaks and you have that six inches of water in your basement- you would have that $5,000 or $10,000 worth of coverage to pay to have it professionally cleaned.
If you have water backing up through your drains (ie. Sewer water), having coverage to be able to pay someone to professionally clean the items floating in the water is even more valuable. Personally, I might be able to handle using a wet vac on a little sump pump water- but sewage… that is an entirely different animal.
And don’t forget when there is water in your basement… mold usually follows. Generally speaking, water backup coverage includes mold remediation coverage. Left unchecked, mold can not only destroy your drywall and carpet, but it is also toxic to the health of your family.
How to best prevent water backups in your home
- Don’t pour cooking oil down your drains
- Only flush bathroom tissue in your toilets (ie. Don’t flush paper towels or feminine hygiene products)
- Consider replacing your line with plastic pipe to prevent tree roots from entering it
- Consult a sump pump professional, typically a plumber, to check your sump pump regularly and look for any pre-existing drainage system issues
- Install a backwater prevention valve to prevent sewer backups
- Buy a battery backup to keep your sump pump working if the power goes out
Water backups can happen to anyone. Some people may think that their house is immune to such things. For instance- if you live on a hill, you have a generator for your sump pump, or if you’ve never had a water backup problem before. The truth is, water backup problems can happen to anyone and they are costly. For an extra $4 – $16/month, you can minimize this risk and put your mind at ease, knowing that there will be coverage for someone else to come and professionally take care of the problem before they get further out of hand.