Did you know that most standard insurance policies will not cover sewer backup without a special endorsement? A sewer issue without the proper coverage could result in a nightmare situation for you and your family. Yet, another great reason to call up your agent and go over your homeowner's policy! You may think that you are covered for something that you are not- and in most cases it is something that could be added onto your policy for just a few dollars! Here is some information on how to handle a situation of this magnitude.
Causes of Sewer Backup:
Something that people may not know is that- you as a homeowner are responsible for maintaining the sewer line that connects you home to the city system. Because of this, it's important to pay attention to anything that might disrupt your sewer line and cause major problems. Likely causes of a sewer backup issue are tree roots, cracked, or damaged pipes due to an outdated system, and blockages that can occur for a variety of reasons. In addition, a sewer backup can happen when a flood or major rainstorm overwhelms the system, sending raw sewage backwards through drains and toilets
Is Your Home Covered?
A standard homeowner's policy will not cover sewage backups, but it's an easy fix that a special rider can be purchased to protect your home or property in case of a sewer problem. The cost of the rider will be based on an evaluation of your risk, and could run anywhere from $40 to $160 per month. This coverage may help with plumbing, cleaning & repair costs, as well as the expense to replace damaged items. Remember- sewer backup coverage may not cover certain types of cases, so be sure to read the fine print or ask your agent to verify what types of situations are covered. If your policy has Loss of Use coverage, you may be able to be reimbursed for living expenses if you cannot stay inside your home during repairs.
Sewer Backups are Preventable:
Sewer Backups- though costly and complicated to fix, ARE preventable. Homeowners can start by keeping grease and other harmful items (paper products) out of drains and toilets. In addition, basic annual maintenance can help to recognize potential problems before they become disastrous. Finally, consider replacing old pipes and/or installing a backwater prevention valve to drastically reduce the risk of damage to your house in the event of a sewer backup.
How to Handle A Sewer Backup:
Sewer Backups pose a serious health risk and must be dealt with immediately.
1) Turn off the water and do not use any water or flush toilets in your home.
2) Clear pets and children from the area.
3) Always wear gloves and protective clothing if you are handling raw sewage.
If your sewer is connected to the city system, contact your local sewer department for help & guidance. Depending on the severity of the damage, you may need to call a professional in order to properly clean affected areas and dispose of the sewage safely. Your local health department can instruct you on how to dispose of raw sewage.
To file a claim or for recommendations on service providers, call your insurance provider or agent. For insurance purposes, be sure to photograph all damage & save receipts for any temporary repairs or cleanings. In this case, it is important to have "before" photos and an itemized list of valuable items to ensure the maximum benefit from your policy.