Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Septic Tanks?

Though septic tanks technically sit outside your home, they are covered as part of its structure. They serve as an integral part of your plumbing and are essential to the livability of your home. Homeowners insurance companies cover septic tanks when they suffer damage or destruction due to a covered peril.

Damage done to your home by a septic tank is also covered. For example, imagine if a septic tank malfunctioned and the wastewater backed up into your home, causing structural damage, the loss of personal items, and mold. The insurance company bears the expense of repairing the home and returning it to its former state, minus the deductible.

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What Is a Covered Peril?

Insurance companies define a covered peril as an event that causes sudden and unexpected damage to a property.  The policy documents outline what counts as a covered peril while also listing events that it excludes from coverage. Common covered perils include the following:

  • Fires
  • Tornadoes
  • Storms
  • Sewage backups
  • Pipe bursts
  • Sudden water leaks
  • Vandalism
  • Burglary
  • Septic tank failures

In the case of septic tanks, for a failure to qualify as a covered peril, it must have been a sudden event and not a maintenance issue. 

Non-Covered Perils

Homeowners insurance policies exclude some perils from coverage. For example, most provide no coverage for floods and earthquakes. In addition, some companies may exclude hurricanes or mudslides for specific locations. Some homeowners policies cover hurricanes but require a larger deductible to be met before contributing to the repair and replacement costs.

For homeowners in areas prone to floods or earthquakes, supplemental flood or earthquake policies can provide some protection. However, these policies usually have high deductibles and policy limits, so you are likely to bear heavy expenses even with the supplemental policies.

What Is Wear and Tear and Maintenance

Wear and tear is the normal deterioration of a septic system over time. As with all mechanical items, parts of a septic system wear out with time and can be expected to sustain damage. On occasion, parts need replacement as they weaken due to use. These repairs are due to wear and tear and not covered by a homeowners insurance policy.

Maintenance items can be expected over time. They are not sudden events. For example, the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule does not qualify as a claim under a homeowners insurance policy.

In this way, homeowners policies are similar to vehicle insurance. For example, your car insurance covers the damage if your vehicle is damaged or totaled in an accident. However, the policy does not cover routine maintenance, such as oil changes, new tires, and replacement spark plugs. Also, the wear and tear on your vehicle, which reduces its value and necessitates new parts, is not eligible under your insurance policy.

Service Line Coverage

Septic systems contain several pipes, including one that transports sewage water from your home and another that transports wastewater from the tank to the drain field. Standard homeowners policies do not cover these pipes, even if they sustain damage due to a covered peril. However, you can elect a service line endorsement on your policy. It costs extra, but it covers these septic tank essentials. 

When your property has no connection to a sewer line, septic systems are the only way to enjoy modern plumbing. They usually work great. As long as they are regularly maintained and emptied, they function just as well as a city sewer system.

But in a disaster, such as a torrential storm or fire, they can suffer damage or be destroyed. Your homeowners insurance company will make you whole when a covered peril impacts your septic system.

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