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Water or sewer backup in your home can be a mess — literally and financially. Backups can result in thousands — or even tens of thousands — of dollars of damage to your home and personal property.

You might assume that your homeowners insurance covers this type of damage. Unfortunately, this is generally not the case. That doesn’t mean you’re completely out of luck, though.

Here’s what you need to know about water backup coverage:

What is water backup coverage?

Water backup insurance — also known as sewer backup insurance — is an additional coverage that you can add to your homeowners insurance policy. It covers water damage to your home resulting from a sewer or drain backup, or a sump pump failure.

These backups happen for a variety of reasons, including aging sewer systems, tree roots getting into sewer line cracks, combined stormwater and raw sewage pipelines, and sanitary main blockages.

As the nation’s wastewater systems age, water backups may become more common . The average age of drinking water and wastewater pipes in the ground is 45 years, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. While homeowners insurance typically doesn’t cover backups, you can add water backup coverage to your existing policy through an endorsement or rider.

Water backup coverage limits

Water backup coverage can reduce your financial losses, but it does have some limitations. First, this coverage will only cover a certain amount of damage, usually between $5,000 and $7,000.

You may also have a deductible for water backup claims that’s separate from your normal deductible. A standard deductible for water backup coverage might range from $500 to $1,000.

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What is covered by water backup coverage?

Water backup coverage applies when there’s been a backup of your drain or sewer, or your sump pump fails. It helps pay for replacements and repairs to your home’s structure from damage caused by backups. Additionally, it pays for damage to any personal property that the backup damages, as well as water removal.

It’s important to note that for water backup coverage to apply, the backup must have been caused by a covered peril. Perils covered by water backup coverage may include:

  • Tree roots breaking your sewer lines
  • Overflows from your sump pump
  • Old or damaged drains and sewers
  • Malfunctioning appliances
  • Backup of your home’s gutter system
  • Blockages in city pipelines

Check Out: Does Home Insurance Cover Burst Pipes?

What isn’t covered by water backup coverage?

While water backup coverage protects you from many damages, it doesn’t cover everything. Here are a few situations when water or sewer backup coverage may not apply:

  • Flooding: An endorsement or rider for water backups is designed to cover just that: water damage caused by drain or sewer backups. This coverage isn’t designed to cover water damage or flooding caused by outside water, such as storms. For that coverage, you’ll need to purchase flood insurance.
  • Broken sump pump: If your sump pump breaks, your water backup coverage won’t pay to replace it. Instead, you’d need an equipment breakdown endorsement to cover those damages. Without that endorsement, you’ll likely have to pay out of pocket to fix your sump pump.
  • Wear and tear: If you’ve failed to take care of your drains or sump pump, your water backup coverage won’t cover any backups that arise.
Keep in mind: Flooding is the country’s top disaster, according to the Federal Emergency Management Association. If you live in a flood zone, it’s probably a good idea to purchase flood insurance.

How much does water backup coverage cost?

The cost of water backup coverage generally ranges from $30 to $250 per year. The amount you’ll pay depends on several key factors. First, the more coverage you purchase, the more expensive your premiums will generally be. You can expect to pay less for $5,000 of water backup coverage than you would for $25,000 of coverage.

Your risk profile can also impact your premiums. Insurance carriers use risk as an important factor in setting insurance premiums. The more likely your insurer believes you are to file an insurance claim, the more expensive your policy is likely to be. Many insurance providers use your credit-based insurance score to determine your likelihood of filing a claim.

Finally, your deductible (the amount you pay before your insurance kicks in) could affect your premium. There’s an inverse correlation between premiums and deductibles. If you select a higher deductible for your policy, you could save on your premium. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to pay that money out of pocket in the event of a water backup.

When should you consider water backup coverage?

There are a couple situations when water backup coverage might make more sense. First, you may want to consider this coverage if you live in an area with a lot of rain. While water backup insurance won’t cover damage caused directly by external water, lots of rain can force your sump pump to work harder. And the harder your sump pump has to work, the more likely you are to run into issues.

You may also want to consider water backup coverage if you have an old sump pump. That being said, you should make sure your sump pump is well-maintained even if it’s older. Otherwise, your insurance provider may deny your water backup claim.

Even if neither of these situations apply to you, water backup coverage may still be worth it. With the prevalence of sewer backups, the aging infrastructure in the U.S., and the affordability of water backup coverage, it’s worth seriously considering this protection for your home.

How to prevent water backups

The good news is that even if you don’t purchase water backup coverage, you can reduce your chances of a loss. Here are several ways to prevent water backups in your home, according to the Insurance Information Institute:

  • Avoid pouring grease or oil down the drain, as it can solidify and cause a clog.
  • Dispose of paper products in the garbage rather than putting them down the drain.
  • Cut your tree roots to avoid having them damage your sewer lines and pipes.
  • Install a new plastic pipe to replace your sewer line.
  • Fix any illegal plumbing connections, as they can cause debris and silt to clog the line.
  • Install a backwater prevention valve on your sewer line to prevent sewage from coming back in.


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Disclaimer: All insurance-related services are offered through Young Alfred.

About the author
Erin Gobler
Erin Gobler

Erin Gobler is a freelance personal finance writer with more than eight years of experience writing online. She’s passionate about making the financial services industry more accessible by breaking down complicated financial topics in simple terms.

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