My brother-in-law had water and sewage back up into his finished basement. When he called his homeowners insurance company, he was told water damage was not covered. He ended up having to pay for the clean up himself and he has a lot of damage. Shouldn't this have been paid for by his insurance company?
Unfortunately for your brother-in-law, coverage for water damage is limited in homeowner's insurance policies. The policy would cover the damage to his home if he had a pipe burst, for example, or if the wind blew his roof off and rainwater came in, but water or sewage backing up through sewers or drains is generally excluded. A typical homeowner's policy will have an exclusion that defines water damage in three broad categories.
The first is flood, which includes flood, surface water, waves, tidal water, overflow of a body of water, or spray from any of these, whether or not driven by wind. Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program. Your insurance company or agent can help you with flood insurance information and pricing.
The second is water or water-borne material which backs up through sewers or drains. Most insurance companies have an endorsement that provides limited coverage for this for an additional premium. Again, your insurance company or agent can explain the coverage available and the cost.
The third is water or water-borne material below the surface of the ground including water which exerts pressure on or seeps or leaks through a building, sidewalk, driveway, foundation, swimming pool or other structure. We recommend consumers regularly inspect gutters, downspouts, drainage systems and outdoor irrigation systems to prevent this type of loss.