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by Chip Schilling on May 23, 2017

The toilet overflows, the drain backs up, the sump pump malfunctions or a sewer line gets clogged and sends sewage back into your home. Does your home insurance policy cover the ensuing damage? Possibly... The key to knowing if you have coverage for this type of loss is to understand what is covered in the base homeowners policy, what is covered by optional endorsements and what is not covered under any circumstances.

What is covered in the homeowners policy?

Most Maryland Homeowners insurance policies exclude coverage for damage resulting from water that backs up through sewers or drain lines. That means that water that escapes, overflows or discharges from a sump pump, sump well or any other system designed to remove water that is drained from the foundation area is specifically excluded. Also, if a tree root in the yard grows into and through a sewer line and creates a blockage that results in sewage being backed up into your home, that is excluded as well. However most, if not all, Maryland homeowners insurance policies offer an optional endorsement can extend coverage for these types of losses.

What is covered by the optional endorsement?

This optional endorsement, sometimes called Escape of Water from a Sump, Sump Pump or Drain on the Residence Premises or Water and Sewer Backup coverage, does a few things:

  • This endorsement gives back coverage for an overflow originating on premises from a sump pump or similar system that is otherwise excluded in the base contract.
  • This endorsement also protects against water/sewage backup on premises that originates through no fault of the customer – for example, if the main sewer line gets clogged in your yard or up the block.
  • Limits of coverage are available to be purchased at several levels starting as low as $5000 damage per occurrence or as high as your total Dwelling coverage limit.

What is not covered under any circumstance?

  • Flood, defined by the National Flood Insurance Program as "a general and temporary condition where two or more acres of normally dry land or two or more properties are inundated by water or mudflow", is excluded on homeowners insurance policies. Anywhere it rains it can flood. Many conditions can result in a flood: hurricanes, broken levees, outdated or clogged drainage systems, a broken water main in your street, and rapid accumulation of rainfall. Just because you haven’t experienced a flood in the past, doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. Flood Insurance is available to be purchased as a separate policy through most insurance agents. The cost for flood insurance isn’t just based on history, it’s also based on a number of factors: such as rainfall, river-flow and tidal-surge data, topography, flood-control measures, and changes due to building and development.
  • Typically your standard homeowners insurance policy also does not cover the cost of replacing or repairing water and sewer service lines out in the yard. Again, if you have the Water and Sewer backup endorsement mentioned above, you may have coverage for the resulting damage inside of your home from those broken or damage water and sewer lines. However, the cost of digging up the yard and replacing those lines is excluded. There are many insurance carriers that are now offering endorsements to add on coverage for the repair or replacement of the water and sewer lines. Also, many public utilities offer service plans (for a fee of course) for this type of situation.

What do I do if I am unsure if I have the proper coverage?

Contact your local Independent Insurance Agent for assistance. If you don't have an Independent Insurance Agent, please feel free to contact us here at Northern Chesapeake Insurance Services at 410-420-3080 or visit our website at https://www.ncins.net/

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Bel Air, MD 21014
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