Who's Responsible if Your Home’s Sewage Line Busts?

(Plus which insurance would cover the damages.)
Christine Lacagnina Written by Christine Lacagnina
Christine Lacagnina
Written by Christine Lacagnina

Christine Lacagnina has written thousands of insurance-based articles for TrustedChoice.com by authoring consumable, understandable content.

paul martin Reviewed by Paul Martin
paul martin
Reviewed by Paul Martin

Paul Martin is the Director of Education and Development for Myron Steves, one of the largest, most respected insurance wholesalers in the southern U.S.

Sewage line busted

Homeowners have a responsibility not only to protect their own property from damage, but also to protect the public from potential harm caused by their property. This involves considering all kinds of catastrophes up front, including the messiest possible situations. So what happens if your home’s sewage line busts and backs up all over the place? Who’s responsible for this mess, anyway?

Fortunately independent insurance agents are experienced in just these kinds of scenarios. They’ve seen and heard it all, so they know exactly what protection is required for many different catastrophes, and they’ll get you set up with all the coverage you need long before you ever need it. Here’s how they’d help get you covered against your sewage line busting.

Who’s Responsible if My Home’s Sewage Line Busts?

As you might have already guessed, the responsibility unfortunately falls on you as the homeowner. If your sewage line busts, it could cause damage to not only your own home, but depending on the extent of the problem, might really create an ugly mess for others in your neighborhood, too. That’s why it’s so important to be equipped with the proper coverage in advance, just in case of such a catastrophe.

Would My Homeowners Insurance Protect Me in this Case?

Well, that depends on if you purchased the proper coverage. If the sewage line break was caused due to a defect in your plumbing, your homeowners policy would cover the damage stemming from the busted pipes, but not to repair/replace the plumbing itself. Meaning, your homeowners policy would pay for the costs to tear a hole in your wall to repair the plumbing or water damage in your home due to the busted plumbing.

Otherwise, you’d absolutely have to rely on an endorsement called sewer backup coverage that would be added to your regular homeowners insurance policy to pay for all other damages and mess cleanup. Your independent insurance agent can help you get set up with sewer backup endorsements and any other protections you may need to add to your homeowners policy.

How Would Property Insurance Work in this Case?

If your home’s sewage line busts, it might cause quite a bit of damage to the structure of your home, or even your personal property. Fortunately the property insurance coverage section of your homeowners policy covers both of these areas, if you purchased the right sewer backup endorsement.

Property insurance covers the following:

  • Structural damage: Covers the building itself, also called the dwelling. Damage to/destruction of the dwelling by covered perils such as fire, certain natural disasters, and more is reimbursed by this coverage. Detached structures like sheds are often covered also.
  • Personal property damage: Covers personal belongings like furniture, clothing, electronics, and more from perils such as fire or theft. Property stored off-premises often has a much lower coverage limit.

Even though a busted sewage line would be an extreme hassle to deal with, at least property insurance could help clean up the financial aspect of the mess.

What if My Neighbor Sued Me?

If your busted sewage line was really bad and the mess seeped onto your neighbor’s property, they might decide to press charges against you. Thankfully the liability coverage provided by your homeowners insurance would pay for all legal fees, including hiring an attorney. Liability coverage also pays for settlements if the case rules against you. Review your liability coverage limits with your independent insurance agent to make sure you’re prepared for any incidents.
What if I Had to Live Somewhere Else While Waiting for My Home to be Repaired?

Well, luckily homeowners insurance covers that, too. Standard homeowners insurance policies include coverage for additional living expenses, which kick in when a covered peril forces you to live elsewhere while repairs are being done. Coverage reimburses for costs of hotel stays, eating out, extra gas mileage to work, laundry services, and more. Since you probably wouldn’t want to live at home until the mess was cleaned up, it’s very beneficial to have this coverage.


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How Would This Incident Affect My Premiums?

Fortunately for you, a single incident shouldn’t hike your homeowners insurance premium, even if it was your fault. It’s highly unusual for an insurance company to punish a policyholder for a one-off incident. That said, if it became a trend for you to start filing these kinds of claims often, your insurance company may in fact decide to hike your premium cost, or even non-renew your insurance policy entirely after its currently term expired.

When Would Sewer Backups Not Be Covered?

Well, unless you purchase the sewer backup endorsement to add to your homeowners insurance policy, an incident wouldn’t be covered at all. But even with this endorsement, sewage that backs up due to natural flooding wouldn’t be covered by your homeowners insurance. You’d need a separate flood insurance policy to cover that. Flood insurance also comes with other important benefits, too.

Flood insurance is only available through the National Flood Insurance Program, which is a part of FEMA. It’s important to get flood insurance if you live in a coastal area, or somewhere that’s otherwise prone to flooding. Not only can flooding cause sewage backups, but can also damage homes in extremely costly ways, including to the point of being beyond repair. Be sure to ask your independent insurance agent if you should consider flood insurance coverage.

Additional Protections Provided by Homeowners Insurance

Though sewer backup coverage isn’t built into standard homeowners insurance policies, lots of critical protections are. Homeowners insurance provides coverage for many common threats to homes and their inhabitants, including:

  • Aircraft or vehicle damage
  • Fire and smoke damage
  • Some water damage
  • Certain natural disasters (i.e., windstorms, hail, lightning, and blizzards)
  • Theft and vandalism
  • Most explosions
  • Damage from riots and civil commotions
  • Falling objects (and trees)

Your independent insurance agent will work with you to get your home set up with all the protection it needs. They’ll get you covered to the point that you feel secure, and you’ll be equipped with the right protection long before you ever need to file a claim.

Here’s How an Independent Insurance Agent Would Help

When it comes to protecting your home against sewer backups and all other messy incidents, no one’s better equipped to help than an independent insurance agent. Independent insurance agents search through multiple carriers to find providers who specialize in homeowners and property insurance, deliver quotes from a number of different sources, and help you walk through them all to find the best blend of coverage and cost.

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