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What is "Sewer Backup"?

While floods are probably best known for causing extensive water damage to homes and businesses, they can also cause sewage from sanitary sewer lines to back up into houses through drain pipes. These backups not only cause damage that is difficult and expensive to repair, but also create health hazards.

Most homeowner and business insurance policies do not cover sewer backup unless specific sewer backup coverage is added to the policy, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). “Obtaining an insurance rider on a homeowners or business policy would cover such damage if it occurs,” said Loretta Worters, vice president, I.I.I.

“Sewer backup coverage is available from most insurers for a nominal cost, usually $40-$50 on an annual insurance policy,” she said.

Most homeowners and business owners may not realize that they are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their house or sewer lateral – the pipeline between the city sanitary sewer main, usually located under the street, and the building. The sewer lateral is owned and maintained by the property owner including any part that may extend into the street or public right of way. A cracked or deteriorated lateral or one filled with tree roots can allow groundwater to seep into the system, contributing to the possible sewer backup problems.

Causes of Sewer Backup

Ways to Prevent Backups in Your Lateral and in the City Main

What to do if you Experience a Sewer Backup

A sewer backup can lead to disease, destruction of your valuables, damage to your house or business, and can even result in electrical malfunctions. Prompt cleanup of the affected property can help minimize the inconvenience and prevent mold and further damage. In the event of sewer backup, immediately arrange for the cleanup of your property. This should include:

How to File a Claim

For insurance claim purposes, take before and after photos of the affected areas and itemize any property losses. Save all receipts related to repairs, cleaning or damages and contact your Independent Insurance Agent as soon as possible.

Source: Insurance Information Institute