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Exclusions of a Policy: Sump Pumps, Sewer Backup, Flood

May 30, 2013

House Under Water

One thing we can count on in Iowa is the unpredictable weather.  This spring is a time for rain and vegetation growth, making the condition of your home of utmost importance. Home and business owners are responsible for the maintenance of their property, including the sewer system. Most homeowner and business insurance policies do not cover sewer backup, flood and seepage.  To alleviate the worry of dealing with flood or sewer backup damage and expenses, our companies suggest that you consider adding or endorsing coverage.

Sump pump and sewer backup is a one package available.  This coverage can range from $5,000 for an unfinished basement to $25,000 for a fully furnished basement.

Flood coverage is a separate package available to add or endorse.

The best way to protect your basement from flooding is to pay attention to how your home interacts with the environment.

+Sump Pump Activity
When water seeps into the ground under your home, water enters the sump pump and is pumped out away from your home. Some simple maintenance can prevent malfunction, but emergencies do happen.


How Does a Sump Pump Work?

A sump pump is located in the lowest part of your home, and when water seeps into the sump pump, the chamber fills. The sump pump is activated by a pressure sensor detecting the presence of the water.  The motor turns on and spins the water until it exits up and out through a pipe, which travels outside away from your home.


What if Your Sump Pump Stops Working?

Sump pumps run on electricity, but most have battery backup systems.  Most sump pumps are equipped with flood alarms and alert you if the pump isn't working properly and water is backing up.  Sophisticated systems can notify your alarm company or call your cell phone if the water starts to rise. Lastly, there should always be a manual emergency mode.

Here are Some Tips to Keep Your Sump Pump in Working Condition:

  • Listen – if there is water coming in, is your sump pump kicking on?  If not, there could be a switch malfunction within the system requiring more research on the mechanical system.  Make sure your sump pump is plugged in and all fuses are functioning properly.  If there is a power outage, the sump pump may not have switched to battery-mode yet.  Or, the battery source could be drained. Do you hear vibrations? This implies that the system is not securely installed, which could lead to tipping over or a malfunctioning flood arm
  • Periodically pour a bucket of water into the pit to make sure the pump starts automatically and the water drains quickly once the pump is on. If the pump doesn't start, have it serviced by a professional.
  • Ensure the outlet pipes are tightly joined together and draining out at least 20 feet away from your foundation.
  • If all else fails, you can turn to a hand-operated pump or buckets to move water out of the pit.


+Sewer Backup
A sewage backup can occur when a sewer system becomes blocked with something, like tree roots, grease, or non-flushable items. This leads to the sewer water coming up through your basement drains. A basement flood could cost a few thousand dollars to pump out and dry properly, including possible carpet removal and mold prevention or treatment. 

There are three categories of water:





Category 1

Clean water

Leaky Pipe

Category 2

Gray water

Appliances (i.e., washing machine)

Category 3

Black water

Sewage, Biohazard, Flood water


The property owner is responsible for maintaining the sewer system on the property.  A damaged or blocked sewer line can allow groundwater to seep into the system, contributing to the possible sewer backup problems.

+Adding or Endorsing Sump Pump, Sewer Backup Coverage
To make sure your family and home is safe from sump pump and sewer backup, our companies would suggest that you proactively add or endorse sump pump and sewer backup coverage to your current policy.

These additions and endorsements would insure and pay up to the limit of liability for direct physical loss to property caused by water, or water-borne material, which backed up due to sewers or drains.  Our companies suggest obtaining a level of coverage suitable to your basement environment.  For example, start with low-coverage for an unfinished basement and increase coverage gradually until you’re comfortable with the amount of coverage for your fully finished and furnished basement.

This coverage does not apply to any loss which is caused by the negligence of an insured, or which is the direct or indirect result of flood.


+Adding or Endorsing Flood Insurance
Flood insurance is a separate package.


 + Read it, Know it, Weigh Risks 

One of the most important things about insurance is to understand your policy.  Jones Insurance & Associates can help you plan what is best for your family.  Some sections of your policy could say something like, “This coverage is additional insurance.” If you feel that you are at a high-risk for certain damages—such as those big, old, heavy trees blowing around and possibly damaging structures—contact your insurance agent. 

 Jones Insurance & Associates can also help you interpret technicalities, such as coverage under, “Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam,” which later goes on to say that this does not include sump pumps, gutters and downspouts.

Keep in mind that the coverage described in your policy only applies when loss or costs are avoided by the homeowner by using reasonable means to save the property from further damage.  The loss or costs cannot be caused by the negligence of an insured homeowner.If you are interested in preventing the above situations in which you could find damages to your home that are not covered by your current policy, contact Jones Insurance & Associates today.

Author: Jones Insurance and Associates
May 30, 2013

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