Sewer back-up coverage not a drain on your budget
Buying—and maintaining—flood insurance is important, especially given Florida’s vulnerability to flood damage. But flood waters are not the only ground water that can get into your home. If your sewer backed up, that would really stink – in more ways than one. Standard homeowners policies do not cover sewer backup; a separate, affordable optional endorsement can be added to your policy to cover it.
An endorsement is a written form attached to the insurance policy that alters the policy’s coverage, terms or conditions. It is also known as a rider. Endorsements for sewer backup vary by insurer, but they all address surface water runoff. Sewer backup is not that same thing as a real flood. The National Flood Insurance Program defines a flood as anything that affects one or more properties or one or more acres. With a sewer backup, it is more likely to be just your stinkin’ problem.
Many people do not know they are responsible for the maintenance and repair of the sewer lateral on their property. This is the pipe that goes from the building and connects underground to the city sanitary sewer main line.
Causes of sewer line blockage include having solid objects flushed down a drain, such as your preschooler deciding their action figure needs to travel via the toilet bowl. Sewers also backup when grease, hair or other solid materials clog up pipes. Over time, there could also be structural damage to sewer lines that cause them to deteriorate. Tree roots are another culprit; they can enter a service pipe at joints, snake through them as they grow – and eventually cause a pipe to crack. An endorsement to your policy pays to repair and clean up this type of damage.
Condo owners may also want to consider sewer backup coverage as it can also cover an assessment for losses. Talk to your insurer about sewer backup coverage to understand what you’re buying; some of these endorsements may exclude damage caused by you. The endorsement cost usually ranges from $40-$50 a year. You can reduce your risk of a sewer backup by installing a one-way valve that allows sewage to flow out, but not come back in.
Homes with basements are not too common in Florida, but if you have one, the sewer backup endorsement also covers sump-pump systems. A sump pump helps to prevent basement floods. They collect excessive groundwater through a series of pipes which empty into a sump pit located at the lowest point in the basement. Excess water collects in the sump pit and can then be removed from the home.
We’ve got some tips to prevent sewer backups.