Picture this scenario- You’ve just purchased a home and gotten settled in. Then suddenly your toilets won’t flush and sewage is oozing up through your shower drain.
Does that sound awful and expensive?
It is and it actually happens more frequently that you might think. If you are lucky, your sewer line is just clogged and can be quickly cleared by a plumber. If you are not so lucky, the sewer line from your home to street has collapsed and you are now looking at some huge repair bills – even up to to $20,000!
The worst news? Many home insurance policies don’t cover this!
Over the years I have taken many calls from clients who have had their sewer lines compromised and it is never a fun conversation. The damage usually comes from one of two primary causes. Either the sewer line has simply failed of old age, or a tree root has grown through it.
Prior to the 1980’s when PVC piping became the material of choice, builders used a wide variety of materials for sewer lines including concrete, clay and even a treated cardboard product. Over the years those lines have gradually deteriorated and are starting to fail at an alarming rate.
How to prevent and prepare for sewer line failure.
If you are buying an older home-
The best thing to do if you are purchasing a home that is more than 30 years old is to have a sewer line scope preformed. Many plumbers and home inspectors will offer this for around $250. If there are signs of deterioration, you can negotiate the repair or replacement of the line into the purchase agreement for the home.
If you already live in an older home-
Just because you already own the home doesn’t mean you are out of luck. Get the sewer line scope performed anyway so you know what you are dealing with. This is important because if you can catch a deteriorating line before it fails there are maintenance techniques that specialists can use to prevent failure and save you a lot of money.
Finally, An Insurance solution- Service Line coverage
For the past few years we have been utilizing a specialty insurance company that offered plans that would cover up to $10,000 in repairs of the sewer, water and electrical line from the house to the street. While this is a great product it is an extra bill to remember to pay with a separate company so it often gets overlooked.
Recently however, several insurance carriers including Mutual of Enumclaw, Travelers and Safeco have begun to include endorsements for Service Line coverage on their home insurance policies. Not only is this more cost effective than the specialty policy, but it also is included with your home insurance premium which is quite convenient. The coverages are similar but do vary somewhat by insurance carrier, in some cases other services outside your home will also be covered such as water, electricity, etc. Please ask us if your carrier offers this coverage, as well as what is covered if you add it and we will be happy to give you the exact cost and coverage amounts.
If your home is older than 30 years, it is well worth considering adding Service Line coverage. A few dollars a month, could save you thousands in costly repairs. A word of warning though, these policies do exclude coverage if you already know there is a problem with the line. So if you want to have this coverage, do it before you have a problem.