Will Homeowner's Insurance Cover Sump Pump Failure?

by Gail Cohen

    It might be one of the worst feelings in the world: Your basement is flooded and there’s no sound coming from the sump pump you installed to stop the incursion. For people living on flood plains, adding flood insurance is common practice, but even they might not know that neither flood insurance nor a homeowner’s policy covers sump pump failure. Avoid the stress associated with sewer back-ups, seepage issues or flood waters by purchasing targeted pump failure insurance coverage.

    Howard D. Yoder patented one of the first portable sump pumps in 1932, according to HGTV.com. The machinery was designed to pump water from a flooded basement after an automatic water sensor detects the presence of water and jumpstarts the pump. A properly functioning unit drains water from a pit to keep surrounding areas dry during storms and sewer backups. Maintenance is critical to a sump pump’s function. If debris gets into the unit, it can block the sensor and prevent the unit from working properly. Homeowners living on flood plains often buy generators to make sure power losses don’t prevent a sump pump from operating.

    The National Flood Insurance Program was created by the U.S. government to protect people living in flood-prone areas because insurance companies exclude flood coverage when writing and issuing homeowner’s policies. Your sump pump can do only so much to protect your possessions, which is why insurance companies began writing sump pump failure insurance coverage. A homeowner must purchase this coverage in addition to buying a homeowner’s policy if he fears water damage to his home can wipe out the contents of his basement where furnaces, air conditioning units and refrigeration systems -- not to mention your storage -- often reside.

    Sump pump failure coverage takes the form of a rider or endorsement attached to a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. Premiums are relatively cheap, and you can receive up to $10,000 to replace or repair anything resulting from a flood or backup and pump failure, including pipes, drains, sewer fittings and the aforementioned appliances. As long as fluid transfer threatens a property, the sump pump fails to respond and the area is breached, you can claim it and seek reimbursement.

    Submitting an insurance claim for sump pump failure requires due diligence so claims adjusters can prove your case to underwriters. Your pump will be inspected. If it isn’t found to be in good working order or if it’s clogged with debris because you failed to keep it operational, your claim could be denied based on improper maintenance. You could also face an insurance premium increase. “If you suffer a water backup due to sump pump failure or a sump pump’s inability to handle water flow, you will incur a surcharge,” Insurance Agent Susan Moore advises her Buffalo Grove, Illinois, clients.

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    About the Author

    Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.

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