Does homeowners insurance cover damage to sewer lines?

  • Homeowners insurance will only cover damage to sewer lines in select circumstances.
  • Most sewer damage is due to lack of maintenance, and this won’t be covered.
  • You can get additional coverage for sewer and utility lines through an insurance rider.
  • Policygenius can help you compare homeowners insurance policies to find the right coverage for you, at the right price »

Homeowners insurance protects your home from damage, theft, and liability — important protection considering that homes are many Americans’ largest asset. But there are limitations to the coverage you get — and it all depends on the type of “peril” your policy insures against.

There are eight types of homeowners insurance, but they all fall into one of two categories: named peril or open (all) peril. A named peril policy covers you for listed events, like a fire, storm, or theft, whereas an open peril policy covers just about anything that might happen, unless your policy specifically notes that it’s not covered. Open peril provides more coverage than named peril. 

Homeowners insurance covers water damage as a result of a named peril (or covered event). For example, if water damage is from a burst pipe, it could fall under “sudden, accidental, cracking or tearing” or “freezing” or “windstorm” perils, according to Steve Wilson, senior underwriting manager at Hippo Insurance.  

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As for sewer line damage, it could be covered by your homeowners insurance, but there are some exceptions.

Does homeowners insurance cover damage to sewer lines?

Most of the time, damage to your home must be related to a named peril (one that’s specifically included in your contract) in order for your insurance to cover it, unless you have open peril insurance or have purchased an add-on rider. Sewer line coverage is rather limited when it comes to standard policies.

If the sewer damage is sudden, unexpected, and related to a covered peril, your homeowners insurance will cover it. The hiccup with sewer and utility lines is that they are usually owned and operated by a municipality or energy company. As a homeowner, you are responsible for where the service lines connect to your home, while the municipality or utility company is responsible for lines outside your home. 

For example, in some cities the sidewalk is where the property line ends. So if the damage to your sewer line happened outside this, it’s your utility company’s responsibility. But if the damage to the line occurred within your property lines, it must be related to a named peril for your homeowners insurance to cover it.

Named peril homeowners insurance typically covers these events:

  • Fire or lightning
  • Windstorm or hail
  • Explosion
  • Riots
  • Aircraft
  • Vehicles
  • Smoke
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Falling objects
  • Weight of ice, snow, or sleet
  • Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam
  • Sudden and accidental tearing, cracking, burning, or bulging
  • Freezing
  • Sudden and accidental damage due to short circuiting
  • Volcanic eruption

Source: Data from The Zebra and Lemonade

What isn’t covered?

Like with water damage, your homeowners insurance will cover sewer damage that’s related to a named peril. If the damage is from sewer backup or a lack of maintenance of the sewer lines, you will not be covered.

Most damage to sewer lines is due to human error — such as flushing grease or paper towels down the toilet, tree roots growing around pipes, old metal pipes, and neglected plumbing problems. Be sure to perform regular maintenance and upkeep to avoid sewer line issues because homeowners insurance doesn’t cover for lack of maintenance.

Standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover damage from backup of sewer lines, but it’s available as a service line add-on rider to your policy, which will be an additional cost. Check with your homeowners insurance provider to see if it offers additional coverage for sewer and service lines.

Additionally, flood damage is not covered under standard homeowners insurance and requires separate flood insurance. 

Ronda Lee is an associate editor for insurance at Personal Finance Insider covering life, auto, homeowners, and renters insurance for consumers. She is also a licensed attorney who practiced litigation and insurance defense.

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