The Ultimate Guide to Sewer Backup Insurance in Canada

By Arthur Dubois | Published on 21 Sep 2023

Sewer Backup Insurance
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    Sewer backup insurance is a critical coverage every homeowner should consider. Water damage represents a significant portion of insurance claims, with 40% of these claims resulting from sewer backup.

    While it’s not the most glamorous topic, understanding sewer backup insurance can save you from significant financial headaches. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into sewer backup insurance to help you navigate this often overlooked aspect of homeownership.

    What is Sewer Backup Insurance?

    Sewer backup insurance covers cleaning and repairing the damage caused by a backup in your sewer lines. Coverage includes the cost of fixing the physical damage and associated costs, such as replacing furniture, appliances, or other personal belongings that may have been damaged.

    Additionally, sewer backup insurance may cover any costs incurred due to temporary relocation while your home is being repaired. Like other types of natural disaster coverage, insurers typically offer sewer backup insurance as an optional add-on to your homeowners’ insurance policy. Be sure to check your policy or speak with your insurance provider to see if you are already covered or need to add this coverage.

    Why is Sewer Backup Insurance Important?

    Sewer backup incidents can wreak havoc on your home and your finances. The damage caused by a sewer backup can be extensive and expensive. Imagine the nightmare of dealing with contaminated water, ruined furniture, and damaged electrical systems.

    Moreover, sewer backups can pose health risks to you and your family due to exposure to harmful bacteria and pathogens in sewage. The costs of cleanup, repairs, and potential health issues can quickly add up, leaving you with a hefty financial burden.

    With sewer backup insurance in place, you can protect yourself from the financial strain of such unfortunate incidents. With the right coverage, you can focus on restoring your home and getting your life back to normal rather than worrying about the costs.

    When it comes to sewer backup insurance, it’s essential to understand your policy’s specific coverage limits and exclusions. Some policies may cap the amount they will pay for damages, while others may exclude certain types of damage, such as damage caused by floods. It’s crucial to carefully review your policy and discuss any concerns or questions with your insurance provider.

    Lastly, it’s worth noting that sewer backup insurance is not typically included in standard homeowners’ insurance policies. It’s an optional coverage you can add for an additional premium. While it may seem like an extra expense, the costs of dealing with a sewer backup without insurance far outweigh the cost of the coverage itself.

    Having sewer backup insurance provides you with essential financial protection in the event of a backup in your sewer or drain lines. It covers the costs of cleanup, repairs, and possible relocation expenses, ensuring you can focus on restoring your home and minimizing out-of-pocket expenses. If you don’t have sewer backup insurance, consider speaking with your insurance provider to explore your options and secure the coverage you need.

    Common Causes of Sewer Backup

    So, what can cause sewer water to back up into your home? Some of the most common causes of sewer backups are:

    • A blockage in the sewer line. Blockages can happen due to the buildup of debris, grease, or other foreign objects that restrict wastewater flow. 
    • Tree root intrusions are another frequent cause. Tree roots can infiltrate sewer pipes over time, causing blockages and damage. 
    • Excessive amount of rainfall or melting snow. During heavy rainstorms, the sewer system may become overwhelmed, leading to backups and overflows. Large amounts of snow can melt quickly, causing high amounts of runoff. In some cases, older or poorly maintained sewer systems may be unable to handle the volume of water, resulting in backups.
    • Older neighbourhoods with old infrastructure. Sewer lines that haven’t been maintained or are old may not function properly, resulting in sewer backups.

    How to Prevent Sewer Backup Incidents

    While it may be impossible to eliminate the risk of sewer backups, you can take several preventive measures to minimize the likelihood. 

    Regularly maintaining your sewer lines: Professional inspections and cleaning can help prevent blockages and catch any potential issues before they become significant problems.

    Be careful about what you put down the drain: Avoiding pouring grease down your drains and only flushing appropriate materials down the toilet can help prevent backups. Diapers, sanitary napkins, paper towels and flushable wipes can block your pipes.

    Outdoor maintenance: Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear of debris and directed away from your home’s foundation to prevent excessive water from seeping into the sewer system during heavy rainfalls. It can help to move your downspout three to six feet away from your home.

    Check your sump pump: If you have a sump pump, check it periodically to ensure it works properly.

    Installing backwater valves or check valves in your plumbing system: Backwater valves can provide an extra layer of protection, as these devices prevent sewage from flowing back into your home during a backup. Some cities and municipalities offer incentives for homeowners to install backwater or check valves.

    The following chart identifies some cities and regions offering financial help to install flood prevention devices.

    City or regionBackwater valve incentive
    City of TorontoResidential homeowners can apply online for a subsidy of up to $3,400 to install flood protection devices. 
    Peel RegionEligible homeowners can get a rebate of $700 to install a sanitary backwater valve
    Durham RegionAn interest-free loan of up to $3,000 for homeowners who have experienced sanitary sewage flooding.
    City of HamiltonUp to $2,000 grant for owners of single-family homes to install backwater valves and other basement flooding prevention measures
    City of OttawaUp to $1,000 for indoor sanitary and backwater valves and other rebates for different types of flood prevention installations.
    City of VaughnUp to $750 to subsidize the cost of installing a backwater valve
    Halton RegionCovers up to 50% of the cost of materials and labour to install a backwater valve to a maximum of $675
    City of Kawartha LakesThe program covers 50% of the cost to buy and install a backwater valve.
    City of WindsorFinancial subsidy of up to $2,800 per property for residential  homeowners to install flood prevention devices
    City of MonctonOffers $500 to cover the cost of installing a backwater valve.
    City of EdmontonOwners of a single-dwelling or duplex can get up to $800 to install a backwater valve.
    City of WinnipegUp to 60% to a maximum of $1000 available to install a backwater valve or 60% to a maximum of $2000 to install a sump pump pit.

    Know the signs of a possible sewer backup: Foul-smelling drains, bubbling or gurgling, toilets that clog, overflow or don’t flush and slow drains can be signs of a sewer backup. Getting these issues checked and resolved can prevent damage to your home.

    The Cost of Sewer Backup Insurance

    When it comes to insurance, cost is always a consideration. On average, adding sewer backup insurance to your home insurance policy can cost $150-$300 per year. However, the cost of sewer backup insurance can vary depending on several factors. Understanding these factors and estimating insurance costs can help you make informed decisions when selecting coverage.

    Factors Affecting the Cost

    Insurance providers consider various factors when determining the cost of sewer backup insurance. Insurers typically include the age and condition of your home’s plumbing system, any history of past sewer backups or claims, the location of your property, and the coverage limits and deductibles you choose.

    Properties in areas prone to frequent sewer backups or those with aging infrastructure may be more expensive to insure. Similarly, if your home has experienced sewer backups, insurance providers may consider it a higher risk, resulting in more costly premiums.

    How to Estimate Your Sewer Backup Insurance Costs

    You can estimate your sewer backup costs by contacting various insurance providers and obtaining quotes tailored to your situation. Be sure to provide accurate and relevant information about your property to receive the most accurate quotes.

    While cost is an important factor, it is equally essential to consider the coverage provided by different insurance providers. By comparing quotes and thoroughly understanding the coverage options, you can choose the right policy that balances cost and comprehensive protection.

    How to Choose the Right Sewer Backup Insurance

    Choosing the right sewer backup insurance is crucial in safeguarding your home and finances. Consider the following factors to select the coverage that best suits your needs.

    Understanding Your Coverage Needs

    Begin by assessing your specific coverage needs. Consider factors such as the age and condition of your home, the likelihood of sewer backups in your area, and your budget. 

    Determine the coverage limits and deductibles that would provide sufficient protection without straining your finances. One way to do this is to calculate how much it would cost to repair or replace the flooring, drywall, electrical system and the contents of the rooms that a sewer backup could damage.

    Comparing Insurance Providers

    When selecting sewer backup insurance, comparing offerings from different insurance providers is critical. Consider factors such as reputation, customer reviews, and overall service. Look for insurance companies specializing in homeowners’ insurance and have a solid track record of handling claims efficiently and transparently.

    Consulting with an insurance agent can also be helpful, because they can explain the details of different policies and provide guidance based on their expertise. Remember, it’s not just the price that matters when selecting insurance – it’s also the quality of service and support you’ll receive in the event of a claim. You can also get an insurance quote online if you prefer not to use a broker.

    Review the policy terms and conditions carefully to understand what is covered and what might be excluded. Look for any limitations or exclusions that may impact your decision to choose a particular policy.

    Filing a Sewer Backup Insurance Claim

    Despite preventative measures, there may still come a time when you need to file a sewer backup insurance claim. Knowing when to file and understanding the claim process can help streamline and ensure a smooth resolution.

    When to File a Claim

    If you experience a sewer backup and suffer damage to your property, it’s essential to take immediate action. Document any damage with photos or videos and contact your insurance provider as soon as possible to report the incident.

    Your insurance policy may not cover all instances of sewer backup. Some policies may have specific exclusions or limitations, so review your policy terms carefully. Your insurance provider can guide you through the process and advise you on whether or not you should file a claim.

    The Claim Process Explained

    When filing a sewer backup insurance claim, you must typically provide documentation of the damage, including photographs, written descriptions, and any corresponding repair estimates or invoices. Your insurance provider may also send an adjuster to assess the damage and verify your claim.

    Keep receipts for cleanup, repair work and professional services you use to fix the damage. Your insurer may want receipts for damaged items you submit with your claim.

    Be prepared for the claims process to take some time, as the insurance provider will need to review your documents and possibly investigate the cause of the backup. It is essential to stay in communication with your insurance provider and provide any requested information promptly to ensure a smooth and timely resolution.

    Sewer Backup Insurance in Canada: The Bottom Line

    Sewer backup insurance is a vital coverage that every homeowner should consider. Understanding what sewer backup insurance entails, the common causes of backups, and how to prevent them can help you protect your property and finances.

    When choosing sewer backup insurance, factor in the cost, coverage options, and the reputation of insurance providers. Comparing quotes and reviewing policy terms can help you make an informed decision.

    If you ever need to file a sewer backup insurance claim, documenting the damage and contacting your insurance provider as soon as possible will set the wheels in motion for a smooth resolution. Remember, sewer backups can happen unexpectedly, so being prepared with the right insurance coverage can provide invaluable peace of mind.

    FAQs About Sewer Backup Insurance in Canada

    Should I get sewer backup insurance in Canada?

    Yes, it’s a good idea to get sewer backup insurance. Sewer backups are one of the leading causes of water damage claims. Since sewer backups can be caused by several issues, having sewer backup insurance offers financial protection if you experience this unfortunate event.

    What does sewer backup insurance cover in Canada?

    Sewer backup insurance covers cleaning, restoration, and the cost to replace or repair any damaged property. Some policies cover temporary living expenses if you need to move out while your home is being repaired.

    Do I need sewer backup insurance in a condo in Canada?

    Your condo building may have sewer backup insurance, but it won’t cover the cost to repair or replace any upgrades you made to your unit or any damage to your possessions. Sewer backup insurance provides condo dwellers with financial protection from damages caused by a sewer backup.

    Do I need sewer backup insurance in an apartment in Canada?

    Apartment buildings typically have coverage for sewer backups, but damage to your contents will not be covered. Tenant insurance can provide content coverage in the event of a sewer backup.

    Do home insurance policies cover sewer backups in Canada?

    Sewer backup insurance is not a standard feature of home insurance policies. Most home insurers offer it as an add-on. You will pay extra to add it to your policy, but it can be worth the additional cost.

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    Arthur Dubois is a personal finance writer at Hardbacon. Since relocating to Canada, he has successfully built his credit score from scratch and begun investing in the stock market. In addition to his work at Hardbacon, Arthur has contributed to Metro newspaper and several other publications