The toilet overflows, the drain backs up, the sump pump malfunctions, or a sewer line breaks and sends water gushing in from the street. Does insurance cover the ensuing damage? Water back-up is one of the most common causes of loss for homeowners but also one of the most misunderstood. Safeco provides comprehensive insurance products to meet your customers’ needs and that includes an optional endorsement that may help protect your customers from the potentially disastrous effects of water backup.

The key to selling the optional endorsement is to understand what is covered in the base homeowners policy, what is covered by optional endorsements and what is not covered under any circumstances.

What is covered in the homeowners policy?

Safeco’s Homeowners policy provides coverage for water that backs up through sewers or drains as long as it originates on premises. If the toilet or shower drain gets clogged and overflows causing damage, that’s covered. If the sewer line in the street backs up and causes the overflow, that’s not covered. Water that escapes, overflows or discharges from a sump pump, sump well or any other system designed to remove water which is drained from the foundation area is specifically excluded, and that’s why our optional endorsement could come in handy for some of your customers. Note: This is a brief description of the coverage, please look to the policy or the product guide for more details.

What is covered by the optional endorsement?

To provide the most comprehensive coverage available, Safeco offers an optional coverage called “Escape of Water from a Sump, Sump Pump or Drain on the Residence Premises.”* This endorsement does two things:

  • The sump pump exclusion is removed. Coverage is provided when water escapes, overflows or discharges from a sump pump or other similar system.
  • Coverage is expanded to include back-up or overflow from causes originating off premises as long as the back-up or overflow itself occurs on-premises.

To provide additional flexibility, Safeco offers two “flavors” of this optional endorsement. One provides coverage for damage to building and contents, while the other covers building and specified contents. With the latter endorsement, the only contents that are covered are washers and dryers, refrigeration units (not including contents), cooking ovens and ranges, dishwashers and built-ins such as furnace, carpet, air conditioners, etc.

Benefits of the optional endorsement

  • Safeco’s optional endorsement gives back coverage for overflow originating on premises from a sump pump or similar system that is otherwise excluded in the base contract.
  • This endorsement also protects against water back-up on premises that originates through no fault of the customer (main sewer line gets clogged up the block).
  • Limits up to $50,000 are available in most states.**

What’s not covered?

  • Flooding is the most common excluded coverage. Whether the result of a river overflowing its banks or a dam breaking, water damage caused by surface water entering the house is not covered.
  • Overflow originating off-premises is not covered. This would include a sewer line breaking in the street and causing water to flow over the surface in to the house.
  • Sub-surface water is excluded. For example, if a swimming pool or sprinkler system leaks underground and causes water to seep through the foundation, there is no coverage under either the base policy or the optional endorsement.