If you’ve never considered what you’d do if your home was infiltrated by the stuff you flush down the drain, you aren’t alone. Many homeowners never think about a sewer backing up into their living space—that is, until they’ve experienced just how unpleasant it actually is.
Sewer backup may or may not be covered under the standard homeowners insurance policy or an optional service line coverage. But what about all of your prized belongings that are saturated or damaged by the filthy water? Is damage to your personal goods by sewage backup covered?
How sewer backup occurs
Any irregularity in the sewage system or sewer line can cause water to back up into your home. It can be from:
- A collapsed or broken sewer line between your home and the street connection.
- Tree roots blocking the septic line.
- A sump pump that quits ejecting water from under your basement.
- Blocked plumbing within your home’s plumbing.
Sometimes it’s accidental or sudden, such as a sump pump that quits during overwhelming rains. Other times it’s due to lack of maintenance like failing to address a slow-draining sink or a sewer main that’s slowly blocked by tree roots.
When your sewer backs up, you could have water coming up from drains within your home like a tub, shower, or floor drain. It might also start spilling over a sewer cleanout pipe outside. You’re all but guaranteed to have a foul smell associated with it.
Worse yet, the water has nowhere to go until the sewer is repaired. That can mean your personal belongings are left to sit in the murky, gross water until an emergency plumber arrives to deal with it.
Does water and sewer insurance cover damage to personal property?
What happens to your belongings that are damaged by sewer backup? You might think that service line coverage, or water and sewer insurance, will cover that. However, that’s not the case. That type of endorsement or optional coverage is reserved to the repairs that are completed outside of your house, buried underground.
Homeowners insurance may cover water damage to personal property inside your home including sewer backup, but that requires a deep dive into the criteria in your personal policy.
If you have a sewer line repair that has caused flooding inside your home, it might be possible to file a joint loss claim. If applicable, it would cover the repair to your service line and yard outside while your homeowners policy would cover any damage inside your home. It’s crucial that you understand the terms and coverage limits of the policy you purchased.