This has certainly been the wettest year that I can remember in recent history. Farmers have been struggling to get their crops planted, and heavy rains have swept across the country leaving countless homes in disrepair, not to mention trying to find a small window of time to mow the lawn. These downpours could lead to overflowing drainage systems, causing water to back up from sewers or drains. Power outages are also common during storms, often rendering sump pumps useless or destroying them altogether. All of this leads to one thing…calling your insurance agent. If you have the proper coverage in place, you’ll hang up the phone with the peace of mind that you’re covered. If not, you may be left standing in the rain.
Before we go any further we should clarify a couple of things regarding flooding and backup of sewer and drain coverage.
Flooding is considered a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas from:
- The unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source;
- The overflow of inland or tidal waters including but not limited to the rising and overflow of streams, navigable rivers, or any body of water rising, swelling and overflowing its banks; or
- Waves, tides or tidal water.
Flooding occurs when water from the outside of your home comes into your home and causes damage. Flooding is not covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy, but has it’s own policy regulated by FEMA. We’ll leave that topic for another day.
Water backup of sewer and drains is a direct physical loss to property caused by water, or waterborne material, which:
- Backs up through sewers or drains; or
- Overflows or is discharged from a:
a. Sump, sump pump; or
b. Related equipment
Water back up is not flooding, and flooding is not covered under a homeowner’s policy. The good news is that water backup coverage is offered as an endorsement on your home insurance policy. Some of our companies even include varying limits depending on which policy package you choose. Water backup claims are one of the most commonly submitted claims on a home insurance policy. That’s why it’s important to get the broadest possible coverage available. Many people overlook water backup coverage as it is an additional cost, but that will be money well spent at the time of a loss.
A Customer’s Story
Last year I had a customer whose sump pump was struck by lightning during a storm. They were out of town and didn’t know it happened. When they came back they discovered their basement was in ruins due to the water damage. Their cost for cleanup, repair, and replacement of their personal property damaged by the water was over $43,000. Thankfully, I offered them a package that included $50,000 for water backup of sewer and drains. Yes, this coverage did cost more premium, however, it wasn’t anywhere near the $43,000 in damages left by the water damage.
Coverage Then and Now
In years past it was common to see $5,000 of coverage for water backup of sewer and drains on a home policy. Just the cleanup alone for water backup can easily rise over $10,000. Also keep in mind that all cleanup, home repairs, and replacement of your personal property (clothing, appliances, furniture, electronics, ect) damaged by water backup is only covered up to the amount shown for water backup of sewer and drains in your declarations page. That means if you only have $5,000 for water backup coverage, that’s the extent your policy will cover for the cleanup, repair, and replacement of your property for any water backup claim. So, the $5,000 you thought might have been enough coverage may not end up being so.
Water backup claims are becoming more and more common with the inclement weather, and cost more to remediate due to the rising cost of goods and services. The coverage you had 10 years ago probably isn’t sufficient for today, so it’s always good to review your policy to make sure you’re getting the best possible coverage. We’d love to review your policy coverage, go over any questions or concerns you may have, and offer the best possible insurance solutions for your specific needs. Claims happen. It’s a part of life. Make sure you have the right coverage in place and the right agent working hard for you.
Feel free to call us at 1-800-644-6030.