So, what is water backup coverage? In short, it’s an essential endorsement or addition to standard homeowners’ insurance. Its primary objective is to cover the damage caused by external water invasion that flows backward into your home from plumbing or drainage systems. These include incidents where water or sewer systems fail, a sump pump overflows, or other water back-flow from utilities into your home.

This coverage protects an area that most homeowner’s policies usually exclude. As a result, it’s increasingly becoming an essential part of home insurance curriculums. One of the chief reasons for the growing importance of this rider is the aging infrastructure. The sewer systems in many cities are decades, if not centuries, old, making them prone to breakdowns and failures, resulting in undesirable water backup episodes.

Moreover, there’s an alarming rise in the incidents of sewer backups nationally, with the rate increasing by 3% annually. And that’s precisely why in this article, we at Old Harbor will dedicate some time to explaining what exactly water backup coverage is. 

Understanding Water Backup Coverage

Water backup coverage, commonly called sewer or sump pump backup coverage, is a specific type of insurance that protects a homeowner’s property from water damage from the overflow or backup of sump pumps, drains, or sewers. This coverage is an integral part of homeowners’ insurance and is usually added as an endorsement to the standard policy.

As mentioned above, its primary purpose is to protect homeowners from the financial strain that occurs due to water damage. Various incidents can cause this water damage, each with unique challenges and issues, usually excluded from typical homeowner’s insurance policies.

Here are some scenarios where water backup coverage can protect your property and finances:

  1. Sump pump overflow or failures: A sump pump’s main function is to keep your basement dry by directing water away from your home. However, it can fail or overflow for several reasons, like power outages, mechanical failure, or excess water levels. If this happens, water can back up into your home, causing substantial damage. 
  2. Sewer backup or overflow: Aging sewer systems and increased extreme weather events can cause sewers to back up into homes. It can result in extensive damage that is expensive and inconvenient to repair. 
  3. Drain backup: In some cases, blocked or damaged drainage systems can cause water to back up into your home. Not only does this cause direct water damage, but it also increases the risk of mold and mildew growth, posing significant health risks and further property damage.

In each case, you must pay for repairs and cleanup out of pocket if you don’t have this rider. Despite the clear risks associated with water backup, many homeowners are unaware of the potential for financial loss until it’s too late.

What Are Its Primary Coverage Areas?

Water backup coverage protects homeowners from significant financial burdens resulting from water-related incidents. These incidents often involve the backflow of water from various sources such as sewers, drains, and sump pumps. But when summed up, the rider extends to the following: 

  • Damage to the Home’s Structure: This part of the coverage is about protecting the “dwelling”, which is the building structure itself. Any damage caused to the home’s structure from scenarios such as an overflowing sump pump or a blocked sewer system leading to unwanted water in your house is covered. It includes damages to floors, drywall, doors, and any part of the house affected by the water backup event. 
  • Damage to Personal Property: Water backup coverage extends to personal property damaged by water backups. This could include furniture, electronics, clothing, and other personal items that might be spoiled or destroyed due to the backflow of water in the home. 

While drafting a coverage plan, insurers often cap the limit to personal property damage, so homeowners must review their policies for specific coverage details.

Water Backup Coverage: Exclusions And Limitations

Water backup insurance is a powerful addition to homeowners’ insurance policies. However, like other forms of coverage, there are certain limitations and exclusions which policyholders must be aware of.

Flood Damage

Water backup coverage and flood insurance are different and serve separate purposes. While the rider protects against water overflow from sewers, drains, and sump pumps, it does not cover damages from natural flooding caused by heavy rains, overflows from bodies of water, or severe weather events. If you live in a flood-prone area, get a separate flood insurance. 


This add-on doesn’t cover damages resulting from a homeowner’s neglect or failure to maintain their plumbing or sump pump system properly. For instance, if the sump pump fails due to lack of maintenance, resulting in a water backup, the resultant damages might not be covered.

Structural and Maintenance Problems

This policy may not cover structural or maintenance issues leading to water back-ups. These can include old, rusty pipes that finally give way, poorly done home improvement projects that cause drainage issues, or gradual issues like slow leaks, mold, or seepage.

Understanding these exclusions and limitations is very important for homeowners, helping eliminate misconceptions and surprises when filing a claim. It also underscores the need to keep your home well-maintained and the importance of carrying separate flood insurance for comprehensive protection against water-related incidents.

Homeowners should thoroughly read through their policy documents, discuss their situations with a trusted insurance expert, and consider additional coverage if required, ensuring they’re fully informed about what their policy covers and doesn’t.

Cost Of Water Backup Coverage

Water backup coverage, an essential add-on for many homeowners, typically costs $50 to $250 annually. This fee is in addition to the standard homeowners insurance premium, reflecting the added risk and protection it provides against specific water-related damages, such as sewer or drain backups. The affordability of this coverage makes it a prudent choice for many homeowners.

When considering the deductible aspect, it’s essential to understand its direct impact on claim payouts. A higher deductible usually results in a lower annual premium, which means more out-of-pocket expenses when a claim is made. Conversely, a lower deductible increases the annual premium but reduces personal financial burden during a claim. This balance between deductible and premium is a crucial consideration for homeowners, enabling them to tailor their insurance to fit their budget and risk tolerance.

Choosing Water Backup Coverage With Old Harbor 

At Old Harbor Insurance, we understand the unique challenges homeowners across California face, including the risk of water damage from sewer or sump pump backups. That’s why we try to offer water backup coverage as a crucial part of the home insurance plans we find for our clients. We believe in crafting insurance solutions that are not just generic policies but tailored plans addressing each homeowner’s specific needs in California.

When you choose us for your water backup coverage, you choose a partner who values personalized service. We take the time to assess your specific situation, ensuring that your coverage is comprehensive and addresses the diverse environmental risks present throughout California. Our commitment is to provide you with more than just coverage. 

So, if you feel that looking for the right insurer becomes overburdening, reach out and get a quote for our services. We’ll try to meet all your requirements, while our diligent customer service will provide you with the best advice possible! 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What Exactly is Water Backup Insurance?

  • A: Water backup insurance is an additional coverage that can be added to a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. It specifically covers damages caused by water that backs up into a home through sewers or drains and overflows from sump pumps. This type of insurance is essential as these incidents are typically not covered under a standard homeowner’s policy​​.

Q: Is Water Backup Insurance Mandatory?

  • A: While not legally required or typically mandated by mortgage lenders, water backup insurance is highly recommended. This is due to the common occurrence of water-related damage in homes, which can be costly​​.

Q: What are the Common Exclusions in Water Backup Insurance?

  • A: Water backup insurance generally does not cover damages caused by a lack of maintenance to sewer lines, flooding, overflowing sewers not on your property, or sub-surface water damage. Regular maintenance of sewer lines and preventive measures are essential to avoid uncovered damages​​.

Q: How Cost-Effective is Water Backup Insurance?

  • A: The annual cost of water backup insurance typically ranges from $50 to $250. This coverage is relatively cost-effective considering the high costs of water damage repairs, which can average around $7,000 for a 1,000-square-foot area. It provides financial protection against substantial repair expenses​​.

Q: What are the Best Practices to Prevent Water Backups?

  • A: To prevent water backups, homeowners should regularly clean gutters, maintain sump pumps, install backflow valves, use waterproof storage for valuables, and consider using smart home devices like water leak detectors. These measures can significantly reduce the risk of water backups and the need for insurance claims.