You’ve just mopped up the basement, again, after a heavy spring rainstorm, so you call in the basement waterproofing contractor. After a thorough inspection, the contractor explains the problem and leaves you with a written estimate of the work needed to fix it.
So, you pick up the phone to call your insurance agent, right? Well, maybe not. While your agent will certainly be sympathetic to your situation, there’s not much else they can do because your homeowner’s insurance policy typically will not cover the cost of basement waterproofing services.
Before we talk about what your homeowner’s insurance will and won’t cover, it might be helpful if we spent a few minutes on what it is and what it does. When we buy a home, we also buy insurance coverage to protect that home and its contents from loss or damage, with the most obvious reason being that we want to provide a comfortable and safe place for our family. Also, for most people, a home is our largest single investment, so we insure it to protect our financial commitment. And, since very few of us are able to buy a home without taking on a mortgage, lenders require homeowner’s insurance to protect their investment in us.
So, how does it work? Most of us have a basic homeowner’s policy that covers all the disasters you’d expect it to: fire, theft, falling trees – in fact, most policies will cover any common loss that isn’t specifically excluded. You can also add coverage to your policy, called an “endorsement,” that covers specific losses, like burst pipes and mechanical failure of your sump pumps. Then there are those “exclusions,” things that your policy doesn’t cover, and common among them are flooding and water seepage that occurs at or below ground level.
After some recent weather disasters, a lot has been said about flood insurance, but it won’t help pay for your leaking basement, either. Flood insurance, which you can buy from many insurance agents, is available to anyone who lives in a community that takes part in the National Flood Insurance Program. However, this insurance is designed to protect only the above-ground parts of your home from flood damage and there are numerous conditions that have to exist before the coverage kicks in. It may be a good idea for other reasons, but don’t count on flood insurance when your basement water problems are caused by groundwater.
A Chicago-area property & casualty insurance agent recently explained the kind of losses and damage that homeowner’s insurance will cover:
“Homeowner’s insurance protects you from ‘sudden and accidental’ losses, such as fire, theft and hail damage and, unfortunately, basement water damage is neither sudden nor accidental. It’s really a home maintenance issue, just like keeping your siding painted or your stairs in good condition."
“We can add endorsements to your policy to cover sewer back-ups or burst pipes or failed sump pumps but even those are limited in what they cover."
“The best thing you can do is to keep your basement dry and well-maintained.”
If we listen to the insurance agent’s advice, the best way to avoid a major water problem in your basement is to take steps to prevent it, like these:
Replace your old sump pump with a dependable cast-iron model;
Add a battery backup sump pump system to guard against basement flooding during a power failure;
Repair foundation wall cracks in your foundation; or,
Waterproof your foundation with an Exterior Waterproofing Membrane System.
In any case, the basement waterproofing contractor will be your best source of help and information preventing costly problems. At U.S. Waterproofing, we’ve provided basement waterproofing services for more than 300,000 basements across Chicagoland for more than 55 years and we’d be happy to add yours to that list.
If you have questions about your basement, please give us a call toll-free at 888-SEEPAGE or contact us online. In the meantime, take a look at this List of the 5 Most Common Basement Waterproofing Problems for more information.