Water backup: What’s covered, what’s not

waterbackupWater backup is one of the most common causes of loss for homeowners, but also one of the most misunderstood.  While most people understand and know that flooding caused by mother nature and outside weather forces is not covered by their homeowners insurance (for this type of water damage a flood policy must be in place for insurance coverage), most are not certain about what water damage caused by water backup and overflow is covered by their homeowners insurance policy.
One of our premier insurance carriers, Safeco Insurance, has provided several helpful, real-life examples of water damage caused by backup and overflow, to help demonstrate what is and is not covered by most homeowners insurance policies.

Water Damage That IS COVERED by Your Homeowners Insurance

Water that backs up through sewers or drains as long as it originates on your premises.[checklist]

  • Toilet or shower drain gets clogged from an obstruction on the premises. It overflows, causing damage. COVERED.
  • Tree root in the property’s yard blocks a drain and causes an overflow. COVERED.[/checklist]

Water Damage That IS NOT COVERED by Your Homeowners Insurance


  • Flooding – River overflows or a dam breaks, causing water to flow over the surface into the house. NOT COVERED.
  • Overflow originating off-premises – Sewer line breaks in the street and causes water to flow over the surface into the house. NOT COVERED.
  • Sub-surface water – Swimming pool or sprinkler system leaks underground and causes water to seep through the foundation. NOT COVERED. [/checklist]

You may also want to consider optional coverages provided by most of our insurance carriers to expand beyond your basic water damage coverage. You may purchase additional endorsement options such as: [checklist]

  • Escape of water from a sump, sump pump, or drain on the residence premises. This coverage expands protection to cover loss caused by water that backs up from a sewer, drain, sump or any similar system on the residence premises that is designated to remove sub-surface water from the foundation area. [/checklist]

Examples: Sewer line in the street backs up and causes an overflow through a drain in the household.

      A sump pump gets overwhelmed and causes an overflow into a home’s basement.  [checklist]

  • Building and Contents Endorsement (Limits up to $50,000 are available.)  This endorsement provides coverage for the building and all personal property normally covered by the homeowners contract.
  • Building and Specified Contents Endorsement (Limits up to $50,000 available.)  This endorsement provides coverage for the building and only specified items that are generally most susceptible to water damage such as washers and dryers, furnace, carpet, etc. [/checklist]      

Water back-up is definitely one of the more confusing coverages in a homeowners insurance policy. If you have any questions at all, or would like one of our agents or trained insurance team to review your homeowners policy with you to verify that you have the proper or extended coverages please contact our office. As always, we are more than happy to help advise you!