Outside a violent storm slams rain against your house, the streets fill with water, the rain rushes down the down spouts, but through it all you hear the comforting sound of the sump pump hard at work. Before going to bed, you check on the condition of the basement and find it remains dry. The sump pump is purring and easily removing the water rising in the pit. You sleep soundly.
The next morning, the storm has passed but you feel something is not quite right. You rush to the basement and find it completely flooded. The pump has broken down sometime during the night. You make a frantic call to your insurance agent to report the damage and what a relief when you learn you are covered — you elected sump pump protection with your homeowner’s policy.
Basements are areas that homeowners should never overlook when insuring their homes. Often valuable personal property is stored in basements, in addition to heating, cooling and refrigeration systems.
Subject to an additional premium and underwriting, homeowners’ policies may be endorsed to cover losses, either structural or personal property, caused by water that either backs up from a sewer or drain or overflows from a sump pump or similar system, even if the loss occurs from a mechanical breakdown of the sump pump (Damage caused by loss of electricity to the sump pump is not covered.). Such damage is normally excluded from basic homeowners’ policies. A deductible often applies to any occurrence covered by the endorsement and there is usually a maximum limit of liability for any loss.
Even with the sump pump or backup endorsement, water damage from flooding or from water below the ground’s surface continues to be excluded from homeowners’ policies. Most insurance policies are clear that if a flood is the cause directly or indirectly of the sewer back up or sump pump failure, the damage is not covered by either the homeowner’s policy or the sump pump endorsement.
But you can cover some of the losses from flooding by purchasing protection from the federal government’s National Flood Insurance program. This program will cover direct physical loss caused directly or indirectly by backups through sewers or drains; discharges or overflows from a sump pump or related equipment; or seepage or leaks on or through the insured property but only IF there is a general condition of flooding in the area and the flood is the proximate cause of the sewer or drain backup, sump pump discharge or overflow, or seepage of water.
Checking with your professional insurance agent and broker can forestall problems from water damage by making certain that you understand why you may need the optional coverages – sump pump and/or flood – to protect your home.
Sump Pump Tips
-A yearly check up of your sump pump can prevent problems in an emergency. A well functioning sump pump drains water from a pit and prevents water from overflowing into your basement.
-Check to see if any debris, garbage, or build up may have worked its way into the sump since the last time it was used.
-Connect a garden hose and fill the sump with water. If the pump does not start, you may need to replace the switch or even a fuse.
-While pumps do not have filters, they do have screens or small openings through which water flows. Check this area to make sure it is not plugged or clogged.
-While sump pumps are usually a good line of defense against flooding, under isolated conditions like a power outage, you may find yourself standing in knee-deep water surrounded by thousands of dollars worth of damage. If you live in an area where power outages are common, especially during severe thunderstorms, it may be worthwhile to invest in a generator to keep your sump pump operating.