Sump Pump Insurance Coverage

chisueSeptember 8, 2007

I've been going 'round with State Farm trying to get coverage in case our electricity goes out, causing our sump pump to fail, causing our (unfinished) basement to flood, causing our two furnaces, water heaters, air cleaners, etc. to be ruined.

We have two pumps: one for groundwater (We are in a low spot.) and one for ejecting water from inside the basement into the sewer.

Last month, during heavy rains, our groundwater sump failed. The groundwater came up in one pit and ran into the sewer pump pit and was ejected. We got a new sump pump installed after a few hours.

State Farm is telling me that I will be covered up to $10K (the max they allow) for damage to furnaces, etc. if I buy Sewer Backup coverage. This doesn't compute in my little brain. I'm not afraid that the sewer will back up; I'm afraid that the groundwater will flood the basement.

Any experience with this, anyone?

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No experience with this specific scenario but you will find plenty of useful info here.

Allstate Program

State Farm Link

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 11:32AM
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Two things come to mind. 1. Did you consider getting battery back up sump pumps for those times the electric might go out?

2. Ever consider getting a B-Dry System?

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 12:58PM
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try_99 -- Thanks for your trouble. I have looked in vain on the State Farm site. The FEMA site shows "contents only" coverage, but my agent says State Farm doesn't offer it. That would fit the bill best; I'd take $20K of coverage and could replace our furnaces, etc. for that.

linda117 -- The battery backups last such a short time and require maintenance. IF I could find a generator I could find one before our 2000 sq ft cement basement floor flooded to a dangerous level.

I don't know what a B-Dry System is. We looked into a natural gas generator -- HUGE thing, $10K.

Anyone with insurance company expertise, please also look at my post on the "Household Finances" forum here about our burglary claim.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 2:54PM
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That's the only system I know that does nor require electric power and might be a good alternative.

Here is a link that might be useful: Water-powered backup sump pumps

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 3:59PM
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Chisue, I've nver heard of coverage for sump pumps in a power failure. Let me know if you find it; I might buy it, too.

I have heard of sewer back-up coverage, but, like you, I don't think it will cover the sump water.

I have a battery back-up for my sump pump. It has an audible alarm to alert me if there is a problem. We also keep a second battery/acid pack on hand. We have added water to the battery and tested the unit occassionally, but otherwise, there has been no maintenance. The battery will not last forever, but I'm glad to have it. Power outages are uncommon in my neighborhood, so I cannot justify a big natural gas generator, but I may pick up a little gasoline powered one someday.

The city water powered back-up sump pumps are pretty cool, but be aware that they consume a lot of city water. Significant use could lead to a hefty water bill. Also, some cities do not allow them, as they use potable water add to the storm sewer burden when it can least handle more water.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 5:10PM
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I remember reading about the water-powered pumps and thinking they sure weren't "green".

We have only had one electrical outage in six years; it lasted three hours and fortunately it was in a dry period.

As I understand it, a battery backup will only run a few hours and the pump can't pump at capacity on one. My "plan" was that should our alarm sound while we have an outage I could round up a gasoline generator before the water level in the basement reached the furnaces. That could only work if we are home, but we are both retired and someone is usually home -- except for vacations! GRRR!

Only the natural gas generator would seem foolproof, but would take up a lot of space and is very costly -- with an unbelieveably short warranty!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 1:18PM
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In my experience, generators are easy to find during good weather. But, if there is a major power outage, it is very hard to find a generator. The stores sell out right away. The people who own generators use them or are inundated with requests.

I've had a backup for 4 years, and I'm glad it is there. Back-up pumps are supposed to last 7.5 to 12 hours of continuous pumping, depending on the battery. It would not last through a vacation, but it might be long enough for you or a housesitter to act (generator or battery recharge). I'm pretty impressed by the pumping capacity of my backup; it really moves water when tested.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 3:30PM
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You may also want to look at flood insurance.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 5:46PM
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I don't think flood insurance would cover seepage into the basement or water coming out of the sump pit unless it was due to or occured with surface flooding. But, I'm no expert. Does anyone else know?

    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 6:14PM
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According to State Farm, flood insurance for us would run $2100 a year, It would only pay out if we had water coming over the top of the foundation AND only then if we had standing water surrounding the house to a certain depth.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 6:21PM
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From what I can tell you're pretty much SOL on the sump failure. As it seems you've figured out, that water will be considered a "flood" and excluded by State Farm and every other insurer on earth...OK that may be an exaggeration, but you get the point.

You could by flood coverage, but as you've found, it's very expensive and tends to define "flood" in a pretty narrow scope. I use to write a ton of flood policies when I was in RI, but here in CT not so much. From memory, a flood only affecting 1 person (flooded basement) doesn't meet FEMA'S definition.

Unfortunately, my advice to you is the same I give to most of my clients in similar situations. Your house insurance was never designed to cover every conceivable risk. As such, you will run into situations that you will not be able to transfer that risk to us. OK, so what do you do? Take the good advice that others have already offered regarding back up systems. But as any good builder would advise, you're much better off heading off the water long before it ever gets into the basement. French drains and extended downspouts will probably solve the problem. I realize the expense, but the alternative isn't cheap either.

Sorry I couldn't be more helpful. I'll see if I can find your other post.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 11:59AM
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Recheck your flood insurance price. I have it and pay about 1200 a year for 200k.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 2:21PM
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