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All You Ever Wanted to Know About Insurance

A Stinky Situation: You're Probably Not Covered for Sewage Backups

Unlike flooding caused by a storm, sewage backup is caused by the obstruction or malfunction of pipes in your home. A standard homeowners policy normally doesn’t have sewage backup insurance unless you’ve asked to add it by endorsement. It’s not as expensive as flood insurance and it’s valuable if find yourself in a stinky situation.

Tree roots, flash floods and pipe blockages can all contribute to sewage backups. While flood and sewage backup are separate coverages, the factors that cause a flood could also cause a sewage backup in your home.

How backups occur

When a flash rain causes the public sewer system to overflow, water has nowhere to go. It may push back into your home and reverse-flow through your sinks, bathtubs, toilets and other pipes. Or tree roots can obstruct the pipes leading away from your house and cause a backup. You’re responsible for the pipes running from your home until they meet the main sewage line. This can be a costly way to find out you have no sewage backup insurance.

What’s the cost of a backup? More than you think

Use this flood cost estimator to see how your costs rise with each inch of standing water in your home. If the expense seems overblown, think about the contents of your basement or first floor (if you have no basement), and how much it would cost to replace them. Then consider how much it would cost to have a professional come in and repair the damage. When the sewage water rushes in, what will you lose?

If you don't act fast, it can cost you

Once sewage is in your home, you’ve got a few immediate problems: standing water destroying your home and belongings, and contaminated sewer water creating a toxic environment. You’ll need to clean and dry the area as quickly as possible, before mold sets in. This requires swift action and professional assistance.

Insurance can help reimburse the cost of hiring a professional for cleanup.

A professional is well worth it. You'll have peace of mind that the cleanup is being done properly. It’s also necessary if there’s a clause in your policy requiring you to act swiftly to remediate the issue. If you don’t act fast, your insurance may not pay up.

Everything in your basement adds up

Even if your basement is unfinished and you think the items you store there aren't worth much, consider the value of the basement equipment that makes your house run properly:

  • Washer and dryer
  • Water heater
  • HVAC system and boiler
  • Water softener

The cost to replace and install these items can easily add up to thousands of dollars.

If you have a finished basement, the cost of a flood could be much higher. You need to add flood coverage by endorsement with limits high enough to cover the cost to rebuild the entire basement, including drywall, paint, flooring and furnishings. That cost is in addition to the usual household equipment mentioned above.

Don’t assume you’re safe because you have flood insurance

Any water that enters your home from the outside is normally considered a flood. If an adjuster determines the water came from inside your home through a backup, your claim under flood insurance will likely be denied.

Contact your Rathbun account manager

Call your Rathbun Insurance account manager for a rundown of your homeowners coverage, and consider adding sewage backup if you don’t have it.

Ask about your coverage for cleanup and remediation, and what actions you must take in the event of a flood. Also make sure your limits are high enough to protect your valuables and rebuild if it’s a worst-case scenario.