Water in Your Basement?
Whether it is from heavy rain or melting snow, one common phone call to our agency throughout the year is, “I have water in the basement”. These calls call from homeowners, business owners and commercial property owners all the time because water often finds its way into places it should not be.
The first question we are asked is whether it is covered. This depends on a few factors. The two main factors are the source of where the water is coming from and the type of insurance policy you have. If water is coming into your basement through window wells or other opening in your basement (excluding drains), then that would be considered surface water and therefore a flood loss. Often, flood is not covered by your standard homeowner or commercial insurance policy. In fact, even if you had a flood policy it normally doesn’t cover contents located in parts of a building that are underground, i.e., a basement. If the water is gathering in your basement because of a sump pump failure or a backed-up drain or sewer than there could be coverage, if you meet the second factor which is having a policy that covers these types of losses. The main coverage you need is called “Water Back up of Sewers and Drains”. This is an endorsement that can be added to homeowners and commercial insurance policies. You can also choose the dollar amount of coverage. Most companies start the coverage at $5,000 however you can go up to the hundreds of thousands if you need. How much you need will depend on the value of your basement or lower level’s build out and furnishing. If the basement or lower level is finished you need to factor in the value of the carpet, tile, drywall, and cabinets as well as the furniture.
There are a few tips that we would like to let you know about as far as dealing with basements and lower levels when it comes to water. First, if you don’t go to your basement very often make sure that during wet times of year you take more frequent trips for inspection purposes. If you have a sump pump, check it regularly to make sure it is functioning properly. Also, make sure that drains are clear of anything that might cause blockage.
If you do have the unfortunate circumstances of finding standing water in your basement, make sure to give your insurance agent a call. Whether it is covered or not we would have advice as to who to call for cleanup. It is a good idea to try and clean the water up as soon as you can since mold can settle in after a day or two. One thing to keep in mind though, if the basement is in a commercial building that stores chemicals of any kind it might be best to stay clear from the water. The water may have caused leaked chemicals to mix and could be harmful.