Water Damage Basics


Water Damage Basics

Hurricanes. Torrential downpours. Yes, even tidal waves. It’s no surprise these severe weather events can cause extreme water damage and flooding. But what happens when your sewer backs up? Or your sump pump stops working? Or even if your toilet overflows? You may not have realized that a standard homeowners policy does not cover all losses caused by water. Even if you have extended coverage, a loss caused by water may or may not be covered by your insurance policy. The source of the water makes a big difference.

What’s the Difference?

So…what is the difference? Flooding is when normally dry land becomes overwhelmed with water from one or more of the following: – overflow of inland or tidal water accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source mudflow – or a collapse of land along the shore of a body of water due to erosion. Subsurface water is water below the ground that exerts pressure on or seeps through a building, sidewalk, driveway, foundation, swimming pool, or other structure. Snow melt is a common source of subsurface water. Overflow is caused by a clog or blockage of the pipes, which causes excess water in your home.

Water Backup

Water backup is actually the reverse of the normal direction or flow of water. This can happen when a city’s storm sewer is overwhelmed with rainwater, causing water and debris in the pipes to discharge through the drains in your home. The good news is, you can add an endorsement to your homeowners policy that will provide coverage for water losses resulting from sewer or drainage backup, or overflow of your sump pump system. But keep in mind this endorsement does not provide coverage for flooding or subsurface water damage. If your policy has been endorsed to include Water Back Up and Sump Discharge or Overflow, coverage is provided for direct physical loss caused by water or waterborne material which backs up the through sewers or drains located on the residence premises, or which enters into and overflows from within a sump pump well or other type system designed to remove subsurface water which is drained from the foundation area. The potential for a soggy basement can bring its own set of concerns. If you added the Water Back Up and Sump Discharge or Overflow endorsement, you would be covered if the source of the water came from the sump pump, sewer or drain.


However, if water enters the basement through the walls or floor, this would be considered flooding or subsurface water, which may or may not be covered on a separate flood insurance policy. Sometimes damage caused by a cracked, broken or disconnected pipe might be covered under your homeowners policy but for coverage to apply, the homeowner must have used reasonable means to maintain heat in the building, or shut off the water supply and drained all systems and appliances of water. For instance, if you head South for the winter but do not maintain heat in your home, or fail to shut off and drain your water systems, a broken pipe and the damage it causes would not be covered. No matter how the water got in, the key to minimizing water damage is to call a reputable water remediation company that can immediately extract water from your home and begin the drying process. Adding a Water Backup and Sump Discharge or Overflow endorsement is an affordable option compared to the thousands of dollars you could pay to repair the damage. If the endorsement is added when you purchase your policy, or at renewal time, there is usually no waiting period. Otherwise both the endorsement and a flood insurance policy usually require a 30-day waiting period before coverage takes effect, so don’t wait… Hang those worries out to dry and call your independent agent today for advice on how to best protect your residence from water loss.