From the Forum – Homeowners Insurance Questions

Photo by PoPville flickr user clif_burns

Homeowners Insurance Questions:

“We are looking at homeowners insurance for our bungalow and wondering if folks have any recommendations on how much coverage to get.

In particular, we’re wondering whether to add sewer/drain backup insurance. It’s an additional $146/year, which seems high (about 15% of the annual cost). We have an unfinished basement and everything we store in it is on tables, not on the ground. Even our appliances are lifted a few inches off the ground.

I’m wondering, in the case of sewer backups, what typically happens? An inch or two? Or a foot or two? We have a $2500 deductible, so would an overflow really cost much more than that?

The house had a minor sewer backup a few years ago due to tree roots in our line that connects to the main line. It wasn’t a big deal in the basement, and the entire old line was replaced with PVC.

I’m inclined to not get the backup insurance given that we have a new line and not likely to have much damage in the basement. But I wanted to hear others’ experiences – am I missing something? Thanks!”

You can see all forum topics and add your own here.

6 Comment

  • It depends on where your house is located. At the bottom of a hill? Is the area prone to flooding? Then definitely get it. $146 is chump change.

    There was rash of backed up drains in the northern U Street area over Labor Day weekend of last year. Friends-of-friends who live in the Floridian condo complex in a basement apartment had a few inches of water across their entire apartment. EVERYTHING was ruined – furniture, their cabinetry in the kitchen, rugs, clothes, etc. Hell, a decent couch alone can easily run you $2500. They had to replace all of their hardwood flooring – that was thousands of dollars.

    If it does flood, how are you going to remove the water? Hiring someone to pump it out is $$$. The water damage can create mold, ruin drywall, corrode your joists, damage electrical wiring, and perhaps even cause foundational issues. Do you have the cash to fix all that?

    Back-up insurance seems like a no-brainer to me, especially if have an property below street level.

  • During that flooding of north U Street last year, the 8 duplex apartments on the ground floor of my building also flooded, as the bedrooms for those apartments are on the basement level. They had workers making repairs for two weeks – they had to bring in lots of industrial blow dryers, rip up all the dry wall, and replace all the flooring. The building then installed a massive sump pump after that, digging up the entire front yard of our building.

    Unfortunately, those renters who did not specifically have back-up addendums in their rental insurance policies were left out in the cold, in terms of damages to their clothing and furniture.

  • You should check with the agent to see if the sewer backup coverage extends to other events like the failure of a sump pump, leakage from a water line to an appliance and over flow of a toilet. It’s also important to see if the policy covers mold mitigation. Not all policies are created equally and if the answer to any of those items above is no I would find a stronger homeowners policy.

  • If your line has already been replaced, you MIGHT skip the extra coverage, since excavating the front yard, replacing that pipe, and basic relandscaping is the major expense. (It was about $5000 when this happened to me in my old house, a decade ago in a much cheaper market.) If you ever finish your basement, or if you have a situation in which you can envision needing mold remediation, I’d spring for the extra 150 bucks. If you lost the use of your appliances, hot water heater, etc., because the basement filled with water and muck, you’d be glad to have the insurance people take charge of the cleanup.

  • Our outdoor drain was backed up (we had just bought the house and didn’t know it) and it caused a slight flood in the finished basement. It came in about a foot and was only about 1/4″ high luckily, but it would’ve been much worse if I hadn’t caught it in time. We ended up with no damage. The problem is when we have these massive downpours and you’re away at work and the drain is clogged. So, the amount of flooding you could have really depends on how fast the rain comes down, what the slope around the house is (does the ground slope toward or away from the house? If it slopes toward, might want to regrade), etc.

    We since had the drain snaked and all the debris sucked out (cost $250). Also, be sure your drain cover is free and clear of leaves and other debris which can block water from going into the drain. I”m no expert, but it sounds like if you have a brand new PVC line, then as long as you keep the drain clear, you’re good for a while. But, I’ve come to realize that living in a rowhouse is a symbiotic relationship with your neighbors. Our neighbors haven’t cleared their gutters in ages and it literally creates a waterfall into our backyard whenever there’s a heavy rainstorm (another reason our drain backed up so fast).

  • For a homeowner $146 is nothing. Don’t skimp on your coverage.

    My agent told me that this insurance provides coverage for backed up toilets and overflowing appliances (dishwashers, washing machines, faulty float switches on dehumidifiers, etc). This stuff happens far more often than you think and damages reach $2500 in a heartbeat.

Comments are closed.