Understanding Water and Sewer Backup and your Homeowners insurance

As the weather gets warmer and snow is melting more often, there may be more water spreading everywhere. Furthermore, spring is quickly approaching which could mean more rainfall causing more water coming into your home or ending up in your basement. There are several things homeowner’s can do to prevent water damage in their homes and keep their basements dry when spring hits.

Prevention Tips for Water and Sewer Backup Damage in your Home:

  1. Test your sump pump to make sure it is working correctly. Install a battery powered back up in case of a power outage and use an alarm system to detect water in your basement. (If you have a sump pump, set a reminder to test it every spring, which is its busy season! In addition, the average life expectancy of a sump pump is about 10 years. If you notice any changes in how it functions, have it inspected by a licensed plumber as soon as possible)

  2. Check your foundation for leaks by looking for cracks, moist drywall or water spots.

  3. Seal your windows and make sure doorways are fitted tight to the frame.

  4. Keep your gutters clear of debris, direct downspouts away from the house, and make sure the landscaping around your home is sloped so any water will flow away from the foundation.

  5. Store your items in plastic containers in the basement and keep them at least one foot off the ground if possible.

Keep in mind there is a difference between flooding and water backup and your homeowner’s policy may not have coverage for one or the other.

What is flooding?

Flooding occurs when water enters a home through windows, doors, window wells. This can be caused by an overflow of rivers or lakes, melting snow, or even excessive rainfall. Most homeowner’s policies do not cover flood damage. Therefore, if you live in a flood zone or have concerns about flood damage in your area, it is important to contact your independent agent to discuss your coverage options for floods.

What is Water Backup?

Water backup is when water or water-borne materials back up into your home. Water can backup from your sewers, drains, or sump pump or related equipment. Damage to from water backup usually is covered on your homeowner’s insurance policy. Be sure to review your homeowner’s policy and check what your water backup coverage limit is. It is important to make sure you have the right amount of coverage for your finished or unfinished basement.

How to respond to a water backup or overflow:

1. Call your insurance agent or carrier to report the claim. The claims adjuster will help assess the severity of the damage and the safety of the environment to determine if you can start cleanup yourself or if you’ll need to contact a mitigation company. Please remember to turn off your electricity as water can be a conductor. Keep in mind sewage can be hazardous, so it’s best to leave that to the professionals.

2. Start the cleaning process. If the sump pump overflow is “clean” water, you can usually start the process yourself. This includes:

· Moving belongings to a dry area

· Wet vacuuming

· Moving air with a fan or dehumidifier

· Cleaning floors and walls with soap or disinfectant

· Steam cleaning or removing wet carpets

· Thoroughly cleaning and drying salvageable property

3. Contact a cleaning and restoration service. If the damage requires mitigation services, your insurance carrier may refer you to a preferred provider or you can contact one on your own. Make sure to do your research ahead and find a reputable company that can provide prompt service! In addition to the steps listed above, the mitigation service may also inspect your home’s major systems and flush out and disinfect plumbing fixtures or clean ductwork. Work with your insurance adjuster to determine the appropriate clean-up response and the coverage available under your policy.

4. Document everything. Document throughout the process, it’s important to DOCUMENT the cleanup, especially if you’re handling it on your own.

· Take pictures of the damage.

· Itemize and inventory any property losses.

· Save all receipts related to repair, cleaning, or damages. Contact Paroubek Insurance to learn more about homeowners insurance and water and sewer backup coverage.


Sources: https://www.secura.net/blog/protecting-basement-from-water-damage/ https://www.thesilverlining.com/westbendcares/blog/water-and-sewer-backed-up-now-what