Home Inspection Articles

Are You Covered for Water Damage in Your Basement?

Posted by Olivia Hunt on Nov 21, 2012 3:39:00 PM

floodedbasement resized 600Home Inspectors seem to talk about water all the time, and with good reason - water is the biggest enemy of houses. As we've previously discussed, more than 90% of homes will leak at some point. You need all the help you can get to protect yourself against water damage. While preventative measures and maintenance including eavestrough placement and proper grading are important, they may not be enough.

Think about your basement. An unfinished basement is very different than a basement with expensive finishes and furnishings. That being said, very few basements are empty – even if your basement is unfurnished, it’s likely that you’re using it for some capacity of storage. Whatever the state of your basement, when it comes to the potential of water intrusion and damage, its contents are at risk. You should consider how vulnerable your home is:

  • Is the home older or in an older part of the city where sewers carry both storm water and sanitary sewage? New communities have separate storm and sewer systems; a better arrangement. 
  • Is your basement deeper than normal? Where basement floors have been lowered, the home may be more susceptible. 
  • Is it in a low-lying area? Does your area have a history of sewer back-ups? Where sewer back ups are common, many homeowners install backwater valves to prevent water or sewage flowing back into the home through the main drain.

Did you know that many home insurance policies exclude water damage that results from sewer backup or sump pump failure? These are fairly common events, and can result in considerable damage and expense.

Most insurance companies offer this coverage as an endorsement or rider to the main policy. It's often not included or even mentioned when you buy a policy, especially in a competitive situation. Home insurance has become somewhat of a commodity, and people generally shop by price alone. Since endorsements add costs to home insurance, many homes are insured without this important coverage. Worse still, many homeowners are not even aware of this gap in their coverage, or the option of adding the endorsement.

Many policies exclude losses "caused directly or indirectly by any of the following . . . water which backs up through sewers or drains or which overflows from a sump." If your policy has this clause, you are not protected unless you have an endorsement, which typically adds protection against sewer back-ups from municipal systems or septic tanks, water from eavestroughs and downspouts and sump pump failures.

These endorsements may be called Sewer Back Up Coverage, Water Damage Extension or Sewer Back-up/Water Endorsement. Coverage may be subject to a limit, restricting the coverage to a few thousand dollars.

How important is the coverage? According to David Slack from David Slack Insurance Ltd, the average cost of water damage in your basement as a result of sewer backup or sump pump failure is around $25,000 indicating additional coverage may be something worth taking a second look at.

Carson Dunlop clients are automatically enrolled in our not-for-profit Homeowners Association that includes helpful information, free technical advice for as long as you own your home and access to group savings and discounts. The Carson Dunlop Homeowners Association has a special group insurance relationship with David Slack Insurance Brokers Ltd to help clients save money and ensure they have the necessary coverage for their home.

Topics: Homeowners Association, Carson Dunlop, Homeowner Tips