It’s Saturday afternoon. You have your kid’s birthday party in a few hours and you’re trying to get the house to transform from chaos to livable. That’s when it happens…You discover that NOTHING will drain - not the sink, not the bathtub, not even the toilet. You call an emergency plumber that uncovers a blockage in the main sewer line running from the house to the street caused by tree roots while fifteen screaming kids are racing around you. Isn’t this how it always goes?
Ever drive down the street and witness a front yard in a state of complete disrepair? We can give some the benefit of the doubt that they are getting a fancy, new sprinkler system, but most are having the sewer line replaced. This line consists of a pipe that runs from the home to the mainline under the street. A few among them have assumed this mission on the guidance of a proactive plumber who cautioned of the costs of backup or leakage due to splintered or blocked pipe. For the majority though, they are witnessing firsthand the issues that clogged pipes can bring.
We all know there are a million things that can clog a pipe. Most can be controlled, others cannot. One thing most people don’t think about is tree roots. While it may not be what initially comes to mind, this is a super common reason for clogged and cracked pipes. Tree roots can cause more problems than your two year old throwing all the toys in world down the pipe; i.e. cracked pipes and damage to the interior of your home. Remedying this unfortunate situation can be costly, and depending on the nature of the project, is not covered by standard home insurance.
Think about the potential costs: (1) cleaning up impairment to/in the house caused by the roots growing and overtaking the pipe, and (2) fixing pipes damaged by the roots.
So, what might your insurance cover? In the case of the first, some home insurance policies will cover damage to your home if a clog causes your plumbing to overflow; some will not. Not all policies are created equally. Without coverage for water backup, in the event that a toilet backs up causing water to damage tiles, walls, and whatever else may be in it’s wake there is a very likely chance there will be no coverage. This scenario can be a worst nightmare come true for homeowners, only beat out by clowns and door to door salesmen.
There is hope, most insurance policies can be adjusted to cover that exact situation, just know it’s usually for an additional premium. Cost for this additional coverage can be as little as a few dollars a month, depending on the carrier.
Consider the second area of damage. In addition to paying for damages caused by the clogged or cracked pipe, homeowners will have to fix the problem that started it all and replace the pipes.. This could mean digging up a large area of yard, making repairs, and putting it all back together again once it’s been fixed - typically not how you want to spend your hard earned time off or dollars.
There is some good new! While unmodified home insurance does not cover the damage the pipes cause, it may cover the cost to tear out and replace the damaged pipes. The kicker is “damage”—the home insurance policy will often cover the cost to fix the pipes if they are physically damaged by the roots, such as when the root penetrates a joint causing it to crack. It is possible for a root to clog a line without damaging the pipe- if this happens there would be no coverage to fix the pipe because it is not physically damaged.
There are more than a few unexplainable events that mother nature can throw at us, included sicking tree roots on your property... Since this problem is handled differently by insurance companies, it’s important to ask your agent how your policy would respond.
If you have questions regarding you insurance, ECI is always there.