Does Water and Sewer Insurance Cover Sewage Cleanup?

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Plumber installing pipes (Photo: @photovs via Twenty20)
Your drains or sewer backed up unexpectedly, dumping gallons of wastewater all over your basement. A quick inspection by a professional plumber reveals that it’s a sewer line issue that needs to be repaired.
You can breathe a sigh of relief if you’ve purchased water and sewer insurance, or service line coverage, because the repair will be taken care of by your insurance. But what about the mess left behind from sewage? Does your insurance cover sewage cleanup from a sewer line problem? Here’s what you need to know.

Sewer line coverage fixes the problem

If the plumber discovers that the sewer line between your home and the main line is damaged or blocked, you’ll be covered for repairs if you have service line coverage. It’s a rider or endorsement on your homeowners insurance policy—an optional coverage that is not included in standard homeowners insurance.
The typical repair for a sewer line is between $3,000 and $5,000 due to the nature of the concern. Since a sewer line is buried in the ground, it needs to be excavated in order to be repaired or replaced. Bringing in the heavy equipment or a crew of diggers is where much of the cost originates.

Sewage cleanup is a home insurance concern

What about the mess inside your home? If sewage has spilled all over your basement floor, staining your carpet and baseboards with putrid-smelling goo, or your appliances are rusting and drywall is swelling from being exposed to several inches of standing water, there’s much more of a cost than just fixing the sewer line.
Unfortunately, the rider for service line coverage only deals with the repair costs outside your home, not the contents within. Your homeowners insurance policy is what you’ll need to consult to determine if you have coverage to clean up the sewage and water.

Confirm your coverages

The standard homeowners insurance policy does not have coverage for sewage backing up into your home. Unfortunately, as a homeowner, that’s an area that you’d be responsible to do on your own. The cleanup process involves:
  • Vacuuming the contaminated water up and disposing of it down the newly repaired drain.
  • The floors will need to be mopped and the walls wiped with a disinfecting soap.
  • You many need to flush out any drains and fixtures to get rid of residue.
  • Steam cleaning soft materials to kill the bacteria and remove the odor.
  • Walls and flooring will need to be stripped out, decontaminated, and replaced.
  • Depending on where the sewer backup was, your ducts may need to be cleaned as well.

Consider adding water backup protection

Although a standard homeowners insurance policy doesn’t cover sewage cleanup, adding an endorsement for water backup often does the trick. Depending on the extent of the damage, the average claim for water backup is between $5,000 and $10,000.
You’ll be responsible for paying your deductible. However, without water backup coverage, you would be on the hook for the complete cost of cleanup and repairs inside your home if a sewer line repair causes backup.