Water can be the most destructive force of nature. Water damage can undermine foundations and result in mold leading to rot long after the “original” damage from water has passed, not to mention the associated health issues.
Most of the time the most destructive damage from water occurs when we are away from home. Although insurance can be obtained to cover some of the damage, there are items that can never be replaced such as photos and items passed down within the family, just to name a few.
There are two types of insurance for water damage. The first is a flood policy. These policies protect against exterior standing water caused by weather and some man-made events. Today, policies offered with the backing of the federal government that has limited coverage are offered alongside several privately offered policies. The private policies tend to be offered in low and medium risk areas while the federally backed policies are offered in the high-risk areas. Be aware, your standard homeowner policy does not include any coverage for flood.
Homeowner policies typically have limited water damage coverage unless endorsed to provide coverage for items such as sewer & drain back up and sump pump failure. As many people have finished basements and/or store items in their basements, it is vital that you make sure you have enough protection for this type of homeowner claim. Many people are unaware coverage on their policies is nonexistent or very limited for this type of claim.
Just as it is important to make sure you are covered; it is important to prevent a claim from happening in the first place.
Proper installation and maintenance of exterior gutters, with spouts long enough to lead water away from the foundation, as well as maintenance of plumbing systems can go a long way to preventing or mitigating a potential disaster. Slow drains and water coming up in a minor way to another plumbing device, such as a sink or a tub, need to be addressed ASAP. This likely indicates an issue that, if not addressed, will result in a disaster at exactly the wrong time.
Most non-flood water damage claims come from sump pump failures. Sump pumps that run constantly and give out due to wear and tear, pumps that lose power for whatever reason, and pumps that are not tested from time to time often result in thousands of dollars of damage, lost memories, and extreme inconvenience to homeowners.
To help prevent these losses consider the following:
1.) A sump pump that runs constantly should be inspected by a qualified plumber. Perhaps a 2nd pump or a larger model is needed or just an adjustment to the current pump.
2.) Make sure that the line to expel the water to the pump drains is not blocked or crushed.
3.) Consider adding a battery back up to your pump. Power outages during storms are a major cause of sump pump claims. Adding an extra 12 to 18 hours of operating time could make all the difference. Keep in mind, this is likely to happen when the pump will be in full use. The better the backup battery the less likely a claim.
4.) Consider adding a second pump in case the first one malfunctions.
5.) Add an alarm (often wireless) to notify your cell phone of rising water levels in the pump basin. For example, check out: http://www.libertypumps.com/nighteye
6.) Install a water-based backup system. The water-based system operates off the plumbing system and will continue to operate when the power goes out. They often do not experience as much wear and tear when compared to the same amount of use as conventional systems. Water-based systems do increase a water bill and often are installed as a back up to a less expensive conventional electrical sump pump system. Spending approximately $25 extra on your water bill is much better than the loss you will suffer from a backup claim, not to mention the inconvenience.
No one wants an insurance claim. The cost, inconvenience, and the loss of items that can not be replaced make the cost too high. Taking a good look at your sump pump system and making adjustments can help prevent a disaster at your home.