Sump Pumps and Home Insurance

  

In the insurance world you will hear the phrase “water is the new fire” a lot. The reason for this is that while the leading cause of property insurance claims used to be for fire, now that distinction is going towards water damage claims.

Water damage is very costly to clean up as it must be done correctly to avoid any future mold problems, and due to this it usually involves ripping everything out that got wet.

One of the important safety features of protecting yourself from water damage is to have a properly operating sump pump. There are a lot of pumps to choose from, and there are even some discounts available with some insurance companies if you choose the right setups.

For this reason, we thought it was a good idea to let our customers know some tips and information about sump pumps and how it can affect their insurance policies.

What Does a Sump Pump Do?

In a lot of houses, you will have a hole or “pit” that water will feed into from around your home. The reason these pits are there is to limit the risk of water finding a way into your home through your foundation. There will be a system of pipes that will feed the water into your sump pit so that it doesn’t sit around your foundation looking for a way into your home on its own.

Once that water is in your sump pit, you should have a sump pump that then kicks the water out of the pit and outside to a safe distance from your home. The sump pump will trigger once the water levels hit a predetermined amount (done at installation with a float). Depending on the wetness of the ground in your area, your pump could be running as often as every few minutes or hardly at all.

Not all houses have sump pumps and pits. If your area is not wet enough or if the builders didn’t see the need for a pit, you may not have one. The pits are usually located in a utility room in the basement and are usually circular pits with a plastic lid over the opening.

Sump Pumps and Home Insurance

Are Sump Pumps Covered on Our Insurance?

On most insurance policies, the coverage will respond to the resulting damage of your sump pump failing under your sewer backup coverage (optional endorsement), but not the pump itself.

With that in mind, there are some programs out there that will cover the sump pump itself. Usually these plans are marketed as home system protection plans that will also cover other similar items such as a furnace or air conditioner. For the purpose of this article, we will be strictly be talking about home insurance policies, and not these maintenance policies.

Are All Sump Pumps the Same?

Not all sump pumps are the same type of pump. You can purchase pumps that are fully submersible, pumps with built-in battery backups, pumps that sit outside of the pit, and pumps that are only built to be backup pumps. Depending on your local by-laws, you can even get water pumps that are connected to the town water supply that push out the water in your pit by using town water (check your by-laws as they can be banned due to water usage).

Doing your research on the right sump pump setup or having a professional help you design your setup is important. There are a lot of options and it can be overwhelming making your decision.

Are There Discounts for Having a Sump Pump?

Not all insurance companies will offer a discount for certain sump pump setups. There are several insurance companies that will offer you a discount for having a battery backup sump pump. Contact your broker to see if you company offers this discount.

What is the Best Setup?

As mentioned above, you should get a professional’s help setting up your sump pump design. The setup described below is referred to as one of the better setup options when doing research. Do keep in mind that this could not be the best setup for you, so make sure you get a professional’s help.

Having a main submersible sump pump with a secondary battery backup sump pump seems to be the ideal setup. The main pump will be getting most of the work, but if your hydro were to go out, the battery backup sump pump would kick in to make sure your basement doesn’t fill up with water.

Using this setup, if your main pump fails for any reason, your backup pump will start working. This will give you enough time to get a replacement pump and install it without having to worry about the water building up in your basement.

There are many different types of pumps and many different setup options. Having two pumps (some pumps come built with two pumping motors) and a battery backed up pump seems to be the safest choice at this time of writing.

Tips and Advice

  • Make sure you know how old your sump pumps are. They do not last forever, so make sure you follow the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance and replace before they fail.
  • Buy additional water detection devices. Some devices are even connected to Wi-Fi and will email you when it detects water on the floor. This could save you thousands of dollars by being able to respond quickly to the problem.
  • Have an alarm if your main sump pump fails.
  • Have a battery backup sump pump.
  • Check the battery and follow manufacturer suggestions for your battery upkeep.
  • Depending on your setup, make sure your pump can handle the height and distance that it needs to pump your water. You will only be hurting your own wallet if the water keeps falling back into your pump (no valve and not enough pressure from the pump) and the pump is continuously running.
  • Make sure you check your pit for any debris or possible obstructions for your pumps
  • Check your floats. A common problem with sump pumps is the float that tells the pump when to trigger. A lot of pumps come with a floating float such as you find in the back of a toilet. These floats can get tangled up with the wires to your pump and will cause the pump to not trigger when needed.
  • If you can afford a better pump, get a better pump. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for.

The Final Word

As you can see from the wall of text above, sump pumps are important. Water damage is extremely costly and if you don’t have sewer backup coverage, you could be paying for the damage all by yourself. Learning to be proactive in order to avoid future losses is significantly cheaper than reacting to problems after it has already done damage.

If you need any more information on sump pumps or if you have coverage if your sump pump were to fail, please do not hesitate to contact your broker (hopefully us!).

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