Insuring for sewer damage in a slab home

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Post Reply
bikechuck
Posts: 324
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:22 pm

Insuring for sewer damage in a slab home

Post by bikechuck » Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:25 pm

The spousal unit and I are selling our home of 28 years and moving to a house (new construction) with a slab that is better to age in. I have always had a basement before so this is new to me. My insurance agent told me that she did not include a provision for damage from a sewer clog or back up since this is slab construction, I challenged her and said that there had to be sewer plumbing (presumably running below the slab) that could still get clogged and back up.

She asked if there is a sewer drain and if so where (garage? laundry room? elsewhere?). I do not know but I have contacted the builder to find out.

I want to make sure that my home owners insurance is written in a manner that would cover the repair costs from a sewer back up and if necessary repair of the plumbing running beneath the slab.

I would appreciate any input from other home owners with slab construction or any insurance agents that have experience insuring home with slab construction on what would be appropriate here and what I should be asking for from my insurance agent. My agent does not seem familiar with this type of construction.

Thanks in advance for any input or thoughts that you might have for me.

sport
Posts: 7050
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 3:26 pm
Location: Cleveland, OH

Re: Insuring for sewer damage in a slab home

Post by sport » Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:55 pm

We also moved to a single floor slab house for our retirement home. Our insurance agent pointed out that if there should be a sewer backup, it would be in our living space, not in a basement. Accordingly the agent recommended sewer backup coverage for the HO policy. I agreed with that logic, and have carried that coverage, even though I do not expect to ever need it.

bikechuck
Posts: 324
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:22 pm

Re: Insuring for sewer damage in a slab home

Post by bikechuck » Fri Aug 10, 2018 4:06 pm

sport wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:55 pm
We also moved to a single floor slab house for our retirement home. Our insurance agent pointed out that if there should be a sewer backup, it would be in our living space, not in a basement. Accordingly the agent recommended sewer backup coverage for the HO policy. I agreed with that logic, and have carried that coverage, even though I do not expect to ever need it.
Thank you for the feedback. Do you know if there is a sewer drain in your house and if so where it is located? Or if there were to be a back up would it come through the toilet(s) or perhaps in the laundry where the washing machine drains?

As you can probably tell, I do not understand much about construction.

livesoft
Posts: 61944
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: Insuring for sewer damage in a slab home

Post by livesoft » Fri Aug 10, 2018 4:07 pm

How much is the coverage? About $5 a year? We don't have it as far as I know. Never thought about it. There is a cleanout plug visible in the shrubbery, but that is not a sewer drain ... until someone opens it.
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

partner
Posts: 122
Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2008 11:45 pm

Re: Insuring for sewer damage in a slab home

Post by partner » Fri Aug 10, 2018 4:18 pm

If you have a stand up shower (not in tub) that is the first place you will see the sever overflow.

HoosierJim
Posts: 436
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 7:11 pm

Re: Insuring for sewer damage in a slab home

Post by HoosierJim » Fri Aug 10, 2018 5:03 pm

partner wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 4:18 pm
If you have a stand up shower (not in tub) that is the first place you will see the sever overflow.
Yes - other things will occur before the sofa begins floating away.

As mentioned - shower, tub, toilets flushing weird like air lock. Plenty of time to get a company to have it rodded out. Just be careful if possible what gets sent down the drain/toilet.

sport
Posts: 7050
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 3:26 pm
Location: Cleveland, OH

Re: Insuring for sewer damage in a slab home

Post by sport » Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:06 pm

bikechuck wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 4:06 pm
sport wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:55 pm
We also moved to a single floor slab house for our retirement home. Our insurance agent pointed out that if there should be a sewer backup, it would be in our living space, not in a basement. Accordingly the agent recommended sewer backup coverage for the HO policy. I agreed with that logic, and have carried that coverage, even though I do not expect to ever need it.
Thank you for the feedback. Do you know if there is a sewer drain in your house and if so where it is located? Or if there were to be a back up would it come through the toilet(s) or perhaps in the laundry where the washing machine drains?

As you can probably tell, I do not understand much about construction.
There is a floor drain in the furnace room. It catches the condensate from the AC and anything that might leak from the hot water tank. Other than that, just the normal sinks, tubs, shower, toilets and washing machine drains.

HoosierJim
Posts: 436
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 7:11 pm

Re: Insuring for sewer damage in a slab home

Post by HoosierJim » Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:27 pm

Put a couple of these water detectors in strategic places. The sound will wake the dead.

IowaFarmBoy
Posts: 535
Joined: Fri Jan 22, 2010 8:19 am

Re: Insuring for sewer damage in a slab home

Post by IowaFarmBoy » Sat Aug 11, 2018 7:47 am

If you have a home with a plumbing fixture in the basement, it is lower than all other fixtures on higher floors in your house and generally will be lower than most of the fixtures in your neighbors' houses. So if there is a clog in the line between your house and the street or in the city sewer main, it is possible you will have a significant backup in your basement. The impact of your neighbors will depend on relative elevations- are you the lowest or the highest house.

As several have said, on a slab, you will experience a backup first in a shower or a floor drain and you are more likely to notice it. I would expect that most backup will be internal to your house- the chances of having backups from neighbors is much lower unless they are a lot higher than you.

My parent's had this happen once. Most of the footing drain tiles in their neighbor hood dumped into the sanitary sewer system (not legal by code) and they got an extremely heavy rain and the sanitary sewer couldn't keep up. Almost immediately they had 3 feet of water in their basement from the floor drain and toilet.

Murgatroyd
Posts: 79
Joined: Sun Jan 21, 2018 8:23 pm

Re: Insuring for sewer damage in a slab home

Post by Murgatroyd » Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:17 am

We have owned 3 homes built on slabs. As previously said, any backup comes into your more expensive and intrusive to repair living space. As a side note to comments regarding either seeing it quickly or adding water sensors, these are no consolation if you do not have insurance. Just because you know or see it doesn’t mean you can DO anything about it.

My advice is seek another insurance agent. What else is she ignoring?

jucor
Posts: 145
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2015 8:35 am

Re: Insuring for sewer damage in a slab home

Post by jucor » Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:18 am

As this is new construction you can ask the builder to install a backwater or backflow valve in the sewer line -- this will prevent backflow from outside of the house -- which is really all you need to insure against -- with a backflow valve paying for insurance against sewage inflow is a bit like wearing both belt and suspenders -- not necessary. If you have an internal backup you will be able to see the problem before it gets out of hand.

I do not understand why these are not routinely placed in new construction. They're cheap if put in initially.

brandy
Posts: 111
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2018 9:45 pm

Re: Insuring for sewer damage in a slab home

Post by brandy » Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:48 am

There are two clean out openings in my (front) yard closer to the house than the street. They are in the line that carries water/waste from sinks and toilets to the main sewer. A few years ago the renters across the street (DEC 25!) had a plumber out after 8PM because of backed up toilet and mess in bathroom. Plumber had to come back after the owner dug to find their openings. I have no idea why their line openings were below ground, but they were. They finally found the line and both openings, and the plumber was called out again to handle the problem. The opening closest to the house was , IIRC, is the backflow control with a one way opening, the second, a few yards ahead, is open to the main line.
The problem was caused by the renters using not standard toilet paper, but a products called WIPES (advertised as flushable, of course) which got caught in the one way valve and eventually plugged the flow. So that part needed cleaned out and replaced. Both openings are now above ground.
The plumber had a line camera that he inspected the rest of the line from the second opening and did find roots intruding but not blocking. He did do some reaming.
Since he was there, I had him check my line from the above ground opening—not the one to the one way valve—and found it clear. Peace of mind for the next few years...

Ways to prevent back ups are don't let things go into the plumbing that shouldn't, including feminine products, paper towels, wipes, toys, etc. Use drain screens to keep hair, etc from sink drains, and keep grease from them too. Boiling water down the drains once a month or so. The plumber said that tree roots will travel to get to water. He also said to use the proper opening, not the back flow opening to snake or inspect the line with, when they pull the snake back, it can/will break that flap.

Traveler
Posts: 618
Joined: Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:07 pm

Re: Insuring for sewer damage in a slab home

Post by Traveler » Sat Aug 11, 2018 3:46 pm

Interesting because I was just shopping around my insurance and I asked about sewer backup coverage and the agent's question was, do you have a basement? I said no. He said they you don't need it if you're on a slab. My thought was, what??? My previous home was on a slab and the sewer line backed up right into the house via the lowest plumbing mechanism, the toilet on the first floor. Luckily my insurance covered the interior damage (not the pipe repair). So I was confused why it mattered if I was on a slab or a basement now. I'm thinking they don't want to provide that coverage because maybe they pay out a lot of claims on it. Of course then can't they just price the risk accordingly?

bikechuck
Posts: 324
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:22 pm

Re: Insuring for sewer damage in a slab home

Post by bikechuck » Sat Aug 11, 2018 5:26 pm

Murgatroyd wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:17 am
We have owned 3 homes built on slabs. As previously said, any backup comes into your more expensive and intrusive to repair living space. As a side note to comments regarding either seeing it quickly or adding water sensors, these are no consolation if you do not have insurance. Just because you know or see it doesn’t mean you can DO anything about it.

My advice is seek another insurance agent. What else is she ignoring?
I will add the coverage and my agent is happy to do so. I have used this agent for 28 years, they have been with us through my children's teenage years during which they had one accident that was their fault that did not raise our rates. I have also had one home owners claim for hail damage that was promptly and fairly settled. The have quickly and fairly covered damage to our cars which were the fault of other drivers on two occasions.

Bottom line, I do not plan to seek another insurance agent.

User avatar
OAG
Posts: 1059
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 11:54 am
Location: Currently Central Ohio, USA

Re: Insuring for sewer damage in a slab home

Post by OAG » Sat Aug 11, 2018 7:38 pm

Anti Backflow device is "usually" located outside of the home (usually incorporated in that thing in the bushes; which is also used to clean out the drain to the street; forward of the ABFD or the home drains to the rear of the ABFD). A functioning ABFD will stop the flow of drain water INTO the home. Usual sources of water inside of the home is caused by Toilets (or of course a broken pipe in or above the slab). Of course most people never think of testing or changing the ABFD until after the flood; easy to do and relatively cheap for a plumber to do every 10 years or so. As far as HO insurance goes I lived in Florida for 20 years in slab homes and did not see a HOA policy that did not cover water damage from burst pipes or drains. In a lot of cases the water feeder lines are up in the attic and not the slab.
OAG=Old Army Guy. Retired CW4 USA (US Army) in 1979.

Post Reply