In the water damage restoration business, we categorize water in 3 ways. First is “clean” water, second is what we used to call “grey” water. The 3rd of these categories is the worst because the water is highly contaminated and can cause serious illness, and in some cases, even death. The IICRC used to refer to this category as “black” water. It can also make the restoration process lengthier and more complicated in the affected areas. What is one of the main sources of this type of water? You guessed it. Sewage.
Oh, but no problem, you are covered, right? Or are you? It is estimated that more than 500,000 sewer backups occur annually in the United States. That means that just about every minute someone is dealing with this problem. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including issues from aging sewer systems, problems with tree roots, and a backed up sanitary main line. The frequency of occurrences of this problem indicates that if your insurance policy doesn’t cover sewage backups (and it probably doesn’t), you’d better seriously look into that coverage. The Insurance Information Institute indicates that most policies actually don’t include this in their standard coverages. The average cost of such a rider is typically less than $100 per year for around $20,000 of coverage, while the cost to pay on your own for a backed-up sewer issue could easily approach $10,000 even before the cost of replacing damaged items kicks in.
One client had raw sewage flowing from a toilet in the basement for 3 hours until fixed and it wasn’t until the damage restoration company came to do the clean-up that they realized they didn’t have coverage for this type of damage. For most regular homeowners, an out-of-the blue bill for $10K would be a serious blow to anyone’s savings! Far better to not take the risk and make sure you are covered. (Yes, you should be looking up the number to your insurance company right now.) While you are at it, be sure that your policy covers “Loss of Use,” because you will most likely have to live outside your home for a time, and this coverage will take care of the expenses you incur directly related to having to “camp out” elsewhere. Check out this article from the Insurance Information Institute for some additional helpful information on this topic:
Let us reiterate that most companies DO NOT offer coverage for sewage backup in their standard homeowner’s policies. This has to be added as an “endorsement” or “rider,” depending on what they call it. For example, we have verified that the following common insurance companies DO NOT offer this coverage without purchasing it separately:
- Farm Bureau
- American Family
- State Farm
- Progressive (It does get covered in their HO3 policy)
- Liberty Mutual
So, call your insurance company right now and talk to someone about adding this coverage. In our opinion, it is completely worth the peace of mind to have this in place. You’re sure to thank us down the road when you have a claim and it only costs the amount of your deductible instead of $20,000!
*The list above is not meant to be comprehensive, only to show that even many of the big insurance companies don’t offer this coverage without adding it on.