Does Insurance Cover Sewer Line Replacement?
Don't assume that your insurance policy covers sewer pipe replacement. (Photo courtesy of John Ahrens)
Before a sewer line backup necessitates an expensive repair, check if your homeowner's insurance policy covers sewer pipe repair or replacement.
Most policies exclude repairs needed due to damage caused by gradual wear and tear, a fact that surprises many homeowners, says Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders, a consumer advocacy group.
"They think a sewer backup is sudden and accidental," she says. "They think: 'Yesterday, my toilet was flushing and today things are coming out of it and it's not cool!'"
However, Bach says if you shop around or consult an independent insurance broker, you may find some policies that do cover sewer line replacement. You can also consider adding a sewer and drain endorsement to your policy, which averages between $50 and $100 per year. Such an endorsement can cover losses related to sewage backup, such as carpet or other damage.
Some utility companies may offer protection plans, for sale through private companies, for home systems including sewer pipes. Bach cautions any consumer considering these programs to make sure they understand what the policy excludes before relying on it to cover their costs.
Editor's note: This is an updated version of a story originally published on Nov. 1, 2011.