Is sewer line replacement covered by homeowners insurance?
Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com
Homeowners have plenty of risks to worry about but often overlook potential problems with sewage. While homeowners usually consider risks caused by faulty or failed plumbing systems, some people aren’t aware of sewage and water pipe responsibilities that extend beyond the walls of their homes.
Damaged sewage systems can cause major losses that destroy floors, furniture, walls and belongings. To make matters worse, sewage calamities often displace households and leave homeowners with bills for sewage cleanup, structural repairs and pipe replacement.
You can protect yourself from financial losses by adding sewer line insurance to your homeowners coverage.
Is sewer line insurance included in my homeowners insurance?
Sewer line insurance, also called water backup or sewer backup coverage, isn’t included in most standard homeowners policies. However, most major insurance carriers offer the coverage as a rider to home policies.
Should I get sewer backup coverage?
Homeowners are responsible for the pipe that connects their home’s water system to the sewer main, including portions of the pipe that run through a public right of way or into the roadway in front of their homes.
Unfortunately, some homeowners aren’t aware of this responsibility and forego purchasing sewer backup coverage when they buy a home insurance policy.
Homeowners who don’t carry sewer line insurance run the risk of shouldering massive expenses if a sewer pipe fails. If your home sits on a wooded lot, you have a basement or you own an older home with original pipes, you need sewer backup coverage. However, even newer homes face serious risks of sewer line damage, which makes it necessary for all homeowners to carry this important coverage.
Considerations when adding on sewer backup coverage
All homeowners can benefit from the protection sewer backup coverage offers, but it’s important to know the type of coverage you need and what it will and won’t cover.
Most standard insurance policies won’t cover damage caused by floods. If you live in a region prone to flooding, you can buy flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. However, flood insurance won’t cover sewer lines or damages caused by sewage line backups.
Many companies offer home service contracts that include sewer line repair service. Some home service companies offer multiple services such as interior electric line, power surge, water heater repair and replacement and water line services. Some even offer emergency plumbing services. Coupled with sewer line insurance, a home service agreement can offer comprehensive protection for your home and personal belongings.
While many of these companies offer useful services, they don’t provide the protection of adding sewer line coverage to your homeowners policy. For instance, a home service agreement may offer a limited amount of sewer line protection but won’t pay for damage caused by sewage to your home’s interior or your personal belongings. Before entering into a home service contract, review the company’s customer service track record on the Better Business Bureau website.
Purchasing water backup insurance doesn’t relieve you of the responsibility of proper home maintenance. If an insurance adjuster determines that neglect or irresponsible use caused a sewer line loss, the insurer may deny the claim.
To avoid a sewer backup claim denial:
- Don’t pour kitchen grease or cooking oil down drains.
- Don’t flush diapers, facial wipes, feminine hygiene products or paper towels down toilets.
- Don’t connect flood control systems, including sump pumps, to your sewer line.
- Elevate appliances and valuables in basements to prevent undue damage in the event of water or sewage backup.
- Ensure that basement sump pumps are in good working order by cleaning them annually and running them several times per year. Fit your sump pump with a battery backup to ensure it can continue to work during power outages.
- Prevent water backups by installing a backwater prevention valve in your sewer line. The valve will ensure sewage flows out and prevents it from flowing into your home.
- Remove trees or shrubs whose roots might interfere with the waterline. If you own an older home, you may also consider replacing your sewer line with a plastic pipe to prevent root damage.
If a sewage or water backup occurs, act immediately to prevent further damage:
- Remove standing water with a wet vac. If raw sewage backs up into your home, hire a sewage cleanup service.
- Mop up residual water and affected floors and walls with disinfectant and soap.
- Removed soiled or wet drapes, carpet and furniture.
- Remove debris from ductwork to prevent obstructed airflow. Clean affected ductwork with disinfectant and soap.
Oftentimes, you can detect sewage problems before disaster strikes. Common signs of sewage issues include:
- Sewage backs up in a kitchen sink or tub when flushing a toilet
- Lingering odors
- Slow draining sinks
- Recurring toilet backups
- Recessed areas in your yard above or near your sewer pipe
- Cracks in your home’s foundation, which could indicate a water or sewer pipe leak
- Rats in your home, which can indicate a hole in the sewer pipe
If you see these signs, get a professional to evaluate your home.
How much does sewer line insurance cost?
If the sewer line on your property backs up or breaks, it could send raw sewage into your home, ruining the flooring, walls and furniture. Repairing or replacing a sewer costs between $50 and $200 per foot. Replacing the full length of your sewer line can cost as much as $30,000. If sewage backs up into your home, you’ll pay $7 or more per square foot in cleanup costs. When you add the expense of replacing furniture, flooring and sheetrock, a single sewage incident can cost a small fortune.
The cost of sewer line insurance varies, depending on the type of coverage you purchase. Some utility companies offer water and sewer line coverage for a few dollars a month.
For example, Virginia-based Dominion energy company provides water line replacement coverage from $5 to $6 per month and sewer line repair coverage for $6 per month. However, bear in mind that insurance purchased from a utility company only covers the sewer line and won’t pay to repair your home or replace personal belongings following a sewage or water backup.
Some insurance companies offer water backup coverage homeowners insurance riders for as little as $50 per year, for around $10,000 in coverage. Grange Insurance provides sewer line coverage for $50 to $250 per year, depending on the limits you choose and the risk exposure of your property.
What does a typical sewer line policy cover?
Sewer line coverage varies, depending on the type of policy you purchase. American Water Resources offers standalone sewage line policies that cover numerous repair costs, including:
- Backfilling holes in lawns
- Clogs and blockages
- Equipment rentals
- Inspection fees
- Lawn reseeding
However, sewage line coverage offered by home insurance companies often provide the most comprehensive protection. Many insurers offer service line packages that go further than just water backup coverage.
For instance, American Family’s service line coverage covers underground piping and wiring systems including data transmission, heating, internet access, natural gas, telecommunications, waste disposal and water systems. American Family’s coverage pays up to $10,000 in losses caused by a wide variety of perils, including:
- Corrosion, decay, deterioration and rust
- Defects, hidden and latent
- Electrical breakdowns
- Mechanical breakdowns
- Pressure system breakdowns
- Wear and tear
Erie Insurance’s service line packages provide $10,000 to $25,000 in coverage and provide protection for:
- Cable lines
- Electrical wiring
- Internet lines
- Natural gas pipes
- Propane pipes
- Sewer pipes
Purchasing sewer line coverage enhances the protections of your standard insurance policy. If a covered sewage disaster occurs, your sewer line coverage will help pay for sewer line repairs, while your dwelling and personal property coverages pay to repair your home’s structure and replace ruined personal property such as furniture.
Where can you buy sewer line insurance?
The most popular and highly rated homeowners insurance companies offer water backup coverage, including:
Top-rated companies offering standalone sewer line protection include:
Ask your provider if it offers this coverage to get more information.
- Sewer line insurance is a necessary coverage for all homeowners and its affordable cost can help you avoid major out-of-pocket expenses.
- Sewer insurance is an additional coverage but worth paying for.
It makes good financial sense to protect your home with sewer line coverage, which you can add to your standard homeowners policy or purchase as a standalone policy. You never know when a sewage problem might turn your life into a living nightmare and render your home uninhabitable. In older homes, old sewage pipes can break and homes with basements can run a serious risk of sewage and water backups. However, the sewer line in newer homes face equally serious risks, from tree roots and errant street construction.
Most major home insurance companies offer sewer line coverage as an add-on to standard homeowners policies. You can also purchase a standalone policy from companies that provide various home repair services or basic pipe coverage from your municipal utility company.