As spring flooding season approaches, consumers should understand insurance coverage for sewer backups, the Insurance Information Institute (III) says.
Sewer backups or the failure of sump pumps to handle runoff water from spring showers are not covered under standard home or flood insurance policies. Consumers must purchase a separate policy or endorsement on a homeowners policy to get coverage. The cost is relatively low -- about $40 to $50 a year, according to the institute.
Home insurance policies might provide loss-of-use coverage if a sewer backup causes severe damage and renders the home uninhabitable. Loss-of-use coverage reimburses for lodging, food and other extra living expenses that occur while the home is being repaired.
A variety of factors can cause sewer backups -- aging sewer systems, pipelines that combine storm water and raw sewage, blockages due to tree roots, and blockages in the city sanitary main.
The III provides these tips to prevent backups:
- Dispose of grease properly. Don't wash it down the drain.
- Do not put paper towels, diapers and feminine products down the drain or toilet.
- Replace the line with new plastic pipe.
- Correct illegal plumbing connections. French drains, sump pumps and other flood control systems should not be connected to the sanitary sewer.
- Install a backwater prevention valve.