Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Sewer Lines?
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Homeowners insurance typically pays to repair or replace sewer lines that are damaged by a sudden peril that your policy covers. However, the most common causes of sewer line damage are generally excluded from a standard policy, so you may need to buy a sewer line endorsement to receive more extensive coverage.
See below for more details about how you can get a broken sewer line covered by insurance and whether you need to add water and sewer line insurance to your main policy.
When Would Home Insurance Cover Your Sewer Line?
Sewer lines on your property are generally considered other structures for insurance purposes, which means they are typically insured against the same perils as the structure of your home. If you have a standard HO-3 insurance policy, your home insurance provider will cover damage to your sewer lines from any cause that isn’t specifically excluded by your policy.
This type of coverage generally accounts for sudden and accidental sources of damage like fire, lightning, explosions, hail, windstorms, falling objects, vehicle collisions and vandalism. For example, your homeowners insurance company might pay for repairs if a tree fell over during a hurricane and damaged an underground sewer line.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Sewer Line Replacement?
After a covered peril, your home insurance can pay to repair or replace your sewer line as long as the claim doesn’t exceed your coverage limit. Your other structures coverage limit is usually 10% of your dwelling coverage limit. So, if you have $250,000 worth of dwelling coverage, then your insurance company might provide up to $25,000 in other structures coverage.
Sewer line replacement costs generally fall within the $1,000 to $5,000 range. As a result, a sewer line replacement shouldn’t exhaust your other structures coverage unless you also have to file claims to repair your shed, fence, swimming pool or a similar detached structure on your property.
How Much of My Sewer Line Is Covered by Insurance?
Even if your sewer line is damaged by a covered peril, your insurance company will likely only pay to fix it if the damaged part is located on your property. If the issue is with the main line located underneath the street, then fixing it will likely be your city’s responsibility. However, you may have to pay out of pocket to fix a broken lateral pipe even if it extends past your property lines.
Can I Purchase Sewer Line Insurance?
For more extensive coverage, you can purchase sewer line protection endorsements from companies like Nationwide, American Family Insurance, Erie Insurance, Lemonade and Mercury Insurance. These endorsements typically provide coverage for other underground service lines like electric and water lines as well.
When Won’t Insurance Cover Sewer Lines?
Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover sewer line damage caused by any exclusions mentioned in your policy. For example, your policy likely excludes damage caused by floods and earthquakes unless you have purchased separate coverage to account for these natural disasters.
In addition, home insurance generally doesn’t cover preventable damage. This means that, if you don’t buy extra coverage, a standard policy won’t cover any of the following:
Wear and tear
Pressure from tree roots
Blockages caused by an obstruction like grease or paper towels
Corrosion caused by chemicals you used to clean your plumbing pipes
When Should I Consider an Add-On Policy To Cover My Sewer Lines?
It may be worth buying a sewer line add-on for your homeowners policy if you do not think you could afford to cover a sewer line replacement out of pocket if necessary. Although a standard insurance policy provides some coverage, the perils it covers are not particularly likely to impact buried utility lines.
Instead, some of the most common sources of sewer line damage are tree roots, sewer pipe corrosion, food or hair blockages, wear and tear, grease and machinery used by construction workers. Since none of these are covered by homeowners insurance, a sewer insurance coverage add-on will generally provide more relevant coverage for your sewer lines.
Sewer line insurance can also cover additional living expenses if you need to move somewhere else temporarily. In addition, some companies offer sewer backup coverage endorsements that cover water damage to your home caused by a broken sewer line or sump pump.
How To Maintain Your Sewer Lines
The best way to avoid filing a homeowners insurance claim or covering a costly sewer line replacement out of pocket is to take the following steps to maintain the quality of your sewer lines:
- Remember where your sewer lines are: It’s important to know the location of your sewer lines so you can work around them effectively. For example, you should avoid planting trees near your lines or storing heavy objects directly above them.
- Pay attention to what goes down your pipes: You should try not to let anything go down your pipes that is likely to damage them. This means you should keep food and grease from going down the drain in your kitchen sink and avoid flushing anything other than water, toilet paper and human waste.
- Consider replacing metal pipes: If your sewer line is made of iron or steel, it may be worth replacing it with polyvinyl chloride (PVC). PVC pipes tend to be more flexible and durable, meaning they crack and leak less and are overall less likely to be damaged by normal wear and tear.
- Have your pipes inspected regularly: A professional plumber can diagnose potential issues with your sewer line in advance and address minor problems before they become major. As a result, it’s a good idea to have a plumber inspect your pipes every year or two.