Is a sewage backup rider on my insurance policy worth it?

Posted by Matt Buchanan

While most of our water damage blog focuses on prevention techniques and tips, in this installment we’re going to talk about financial protection. Namely, whether or not it makes sense to add a rider to your policy that protects you against the financial burdens of a sewage backup. One of the most common types of jobs we are called to is addressing the damage caused by a large sewer backup. In some cases it occurs due to a blockage in the drain, while other times the problem exists at the street level and causes water to shoot up the main pipe connecting your home to that municipal drain. Whatever the cause, the financial impact can be devastating. So let’s talk through some things you should consider so that you’re able to make a sound decision regarding what type of policy protection works for your property.


Important things to consider in regards to sewer backups


sewage-backup-lossWe say this all the time when it comes to deciding how much to invest in water damage prevention methods, and it applies here as well: it’s important to understand the risks posed on your property to an emergency event like a sewage backup, as well as the financial implications in the case said event happens. That’s a 2 part equation that we need to break down, so please take a few minutes to keep reading:


Is my home at risk of a sewage backup?


Any home can suffer a sewer backup for any number of reasons. But some homes are at greater risk. Namely…

  • is your home connected to a combined sewer system? Most people have no clue what a combined sewer system is or why it impacts your threat risk, but it’s important to understand as it can greatly impact your property’s health. A combined sewer system means that the same pipe charged with carrying raw sewage to a treatment facility plant also carries storm water during a rain event. Why can this be a problem? Because too much rain water can put too much pressure on the pipe and the water flowing through it will seek an exit. That happens to be the pipe that flows from your home and taps into the main city pipe. So when a heavy rain comes barreling down, that water along with raw sewage can end up shooting up your main pipe and flooding your basement or the lowest point in your home with raw sewage and waste. Below is a diagram showing the basic components that comprise a combined sewer system. Not shown is any debris that may cause a blockage in the system that would send water back up the pipe and into your home!


CSO_diagram_US_EPA(image source credit: Wikipedia)

  • is your home’s sewer line old? Older sewer lines can be made of clay and other materials that degrade over time. When they break or become infiltrated by tree roots, they will eventually create a blockage that will cause any raw sewage to head back up your home’s pipe and exit through low lying drains. It’s always a good idea to have your home’s sewer line scoped so that you can see for yourself the state of your sewer line. It will be very obvious through the scope video whether or not you’ve got a ticking time bomb on your hands. If it’s in a state of disrepair, you’ve got some things to consider. It’s probably in your best interest to have your sewer line completely replaced, which depending on how many linear feet it takes to tap into the city line, can be quite expensive.


How much does sewage damage cost to repair?


This, like any type of water damage, can vary greatly. We will give an average cost to clean, repair and restore sewage damage: $6,000. That’s an average, and the actual cost for you will depend on the amount of damage done. If you have a finished basement that gets 6 inches of sewage water throughout the entirety of the basement, you can rest assured the cost of the damage will greatly exceed this amount (by on order of tens of thousands of dollars). But if you just end up with a small area by a drain that has raw sewage on it and its concrete, obviously it’s not going to cost that much to clean up.

With that said, you have to decide what financial risk you’re willing to take, and whether or not you have the funds to cover a loss should one happen to you.


How much does a sewer backup rider cost?


When you’re factoring your financial risks, it’s also important to factor the cost of protecting yourself against those risks. Rates will vary depending on where you live in the country and your deductible/amount of coverage, but generally speaking you shouldn’t be expected to pay more than a few dollars per month for insurance protection. So if you’re willing to cut out one or maybe two mocha lattes each month, you can easily afford to pay for this protection without even putting the slightest dent in your monthly budget.


Have you suffered sewage damage?


If all of this information is coming too late, and you’re in need of professional sewage cleanup services, we would greatly appreciate the chance to serve you. At the very least, we can come out and inspect the damage firsthand and put forth an estimate to mitigate the damage and make sure your home is returned to its safe state.

About Matt Buchanan

I grew up in Irving, TX and left for Nashville, TN for college. After college I lived in Washington, DC and then in Cairo, Egypt. After coming back to the states, I spent a couple of years back in Dallas before moving with my wife to Denver!
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