When basement flooding occurs, some homeowners are shocked to discover that the damage is not covered by their homeowners insurance policy. Flood insurance is an add-on to most policies, and standard home insurance doesn’t normally protect against flooding.
But what if the flooding occurs due to sump pump failure? Sump pump failure can be either mechanical or electrical (due to a power outage), and the circumstances of coverage depend on each individual situation. Here are some general guidelines that will help you understand when you may qualify for insurance coverage for sump pumps.
Sump Pump Insurance Rider
Some homeowners assume that if their sump pump backs up, the damages will be covered under the “Sewer and Drain Back-ups” portion of their policy. But most sump pump failure is not covered under regular homeowners insurance policies unless you specifically add the appropriate rider. This rider covers you if the sump pump stops working due to a power outage, and may or may not provide coverage for mechanical failures.
Even if you add a sump pump rider to your insurance policy, you will need to take extra precautions to ensure that you will be covered if the pump fails and results in water damage. When you make a homeowners insurance claim, the adjustor is required to do his or her due diligence, and that means that your sump pump will be inspected. If it is not found to be in good working order or if it’s clogged with debris because if improper maintenance, your claim could be denied. Not only that, but you could face an increase to your insurance premium.
Depending on your insurance company and the circumstances surrounding the flooding, the dollar amount that is covered in your situation can be low. The damage to your property and the resulting work to fix it may not be fully covered under your policy.
Take the Right Steps
If you are worried about basement flooding and are considering adding a sump pump rider to your insurance policy, first consider taking the following steps to help prevent water damage from happening in the first place:
- Regular Maintenance: Routine maintenance and checks on your sump pump can go a long way. You are more likely to spot problems before they can impact you, and you’ll be ensuring that your system is kept in good working condition. It’s especially important to perform these checks before a major storm or as snow begins to melt in your area. Again, if an insurance company finds that the reason for pump failure was easily preventable, you may not be covered under your rider.
- Battery Backup: Install a sump pump battery backup system to provide peace of mind even in the event of power failure. Battery backups for sump pumps ensure that even if utility power is not available because of a power outage, your pump will continue functioning. Because most sump pump failures are electrical and not mechanical, installing a battery backup system is one of the most effective ways to avoid pump failure.
- Power Generator: If you live in an area that frequently loses power or is unusually prone to flooding, you may consider adding a generator to your home.
Every homeowner wants peace of mind when it comes to protecting their property and their family from water damage. But insurance isn’t the only way to acquire that peace of mind. Taking some practical steps can help you prepare for the worst.