Blog Sump Pumps and Insurance

Sep 8, 2022

Does insurance cover sump pump failure?

red sump pump inside home

Sump pumps are one of the best ways to prevent water damage in Canadian homes. But how exactly do they work and how do they prevent damage from water in your home?

Water can have a devasting impact on your home, and basic policies do not include flood insurance. Statistics Canada found that over 17,000 buildings and living areas are at a risk for flood damage from rain, snowmelt, and other weather related disasters.

Not all homes have sump pumps, but here’s a look at when you should consider adding additional coverage to your home insurance and how to maintain it properly.

What is a sump pump?

A sump pump is a submersible device installed in a sump pit dug at the lowest point of your home, usually the basement, designed to collect water that filters through the loose earth outside your home. Not all homes have sump pumps – if you live in a dry area or the builders did not see one as a necessary addition, you wouldn’t have one.

This small but mighty piece of equipment has countless benefits, including :

  • Reduce mold damage, mildew, and fungus growth from a damp basement.
  • Provide peace of mind no matter if there is a downpour or freeze/thaw.
  • Defend your basement from the risk of flooding and damages from it.
  • Goes above the basic requirements of being a homeowner who wants to protect their home.

If you have a finished basement, previous water problems, or live in a location with heavy rain or snow, you may want to consider investing in a sump pump if there is not one already.

Does having a sump pump affect insurance cost?

Having a sump pump can not only protect your home from flooding, but it can also lower your coverage costs. Since a sump pump lowers your risk for a claim, some insurers offer discounts for your due diligence to mitigate potential accidents. Give our licensed brokers a call to learn if you qualify for a deduction in your policy or if you should add sewer backup insurance.

Is sump pump failure covered by insurance?

If your sump pump experiences an accidental failure that damages your home, you’ll only be covered if you have water damage insurance or another endorsement supporting related damages. Often policies will not cover the sump pump repair or replacement in the event of a claim but always check with your provider to confirm if it’s included.

Insurance companies will cover the damage caused by the water, but they will not cover the source of the damage, such as the sump pump. The homeowner will be responsible for paying the deductible and replacing the sump pump, which also includes hiring a plumber to repair or replace to sump pump.

Does insurance cover sump pump installation?

If you are installing a sump pump to prevent future mishaps, your insurer may be able to assist you with the costs. This decision will vary by each insurer, but it is worth asking before you begin the project.

Some towns and cities may offer a sump pump installation rebates. For instance, in Toronto the Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program offers up to $3400 if you install a flood protection device in your home.

sump pump in home basement

Types of sump pumps

There are two types of sump pumps - primary or backup. Ideally, your home has one of each because the backup sump pump will kick in if the primary fails, or if the water intake is too high to handle. There are combination sump pumps available for purchase.

There are also two different types of sump pumps for Canadian homeowners – submersible and pedestal.

  • Submersible pumps sit inside the pit while submerged in the water. They are more affordable, but they can be more challenging to access for maintenance.
  • Pedestal sump pumps are designed to be upright devices with the pump motor sitting on top. There will be an intake device at the bottom to collect water.

When you get a sump pump installed or repaired, you’ll want to work with an expert to determine flow rate and correct distance for optimal flow.

Sump pump backup systems

One of the most important features to invest in, especially to lower your home insurance costs, is a backup power source. Here is a look at the options.

  • Water powered backup : This type of sump pump backup can run for an unlimited amount of time and have a longer life span (up to 20 years or more). There is no need to worry about replacing the battery or power outages affecting the system since it is not connected to an electrical current, they are simply water powered. Keep in mind they do need a consistent, high-pressure flow to work correctly.
  • Battery Operated backup : Battery operated backups are the most common type of sump pump. They are connected to a large battery. If there is a power outage, you risk the sump pump not working, leading to water damage since your pump is not running. They generally need to be replaced every three years, and you’ll need to buy replacement batteries every few years.
  • Sump pump alarm : You can add a sump pump alarm, or seek out a model that has one included. This addition can also be a bonus for your insurer to offer a discount.

What does a sump pump do?

Sump pumps are designed to move water from your home and divert it safely away from the foundation of your building. They are pits dug into the basement and collect water with the assistance of sensors and other mechanics.

Once the equipment is activated, it uses about one gallon of city water to pump two gallons from the pit. A total of three gallons will be moved away from your home, limiting the chance of flooding. The amount of water being diverted will depend on the type of pump you have.

Since intense rainfall and weather can cause power outages, many pumps have battery backups to ensure it continues functioning. Even with a sump pump, overland flood insurance is a highly suggested endorsement for your policy.

How do sump pumps work?

Sump pumps work by collecting rain and flood water from your home. When that water reaches a certain level, the float activator will trigger the pump leading to emptying the pit of water. Once it is activated, the pump will move water through the discharge pipe to outside your home.

There is also a motor which is powered by electricity, and some models have a backup battery, which will ensure your equipment keeps working even if there is a power outage.

6 Sump pump maintenance tips

Once a sump pump is installed, it’s important to follow a few steps to keep it working properly. By following these six tips, you can be sure yours is working the next time you do your autumn or spring home maintenance checklist.

  1. Check to see if the discharge piping is free of any obstructions.
  2. Look at the power source, switches, and electric cord to ensure they are all plugged in properly and functioning safely.
  3. Clean the grate every six months to prevent dirt accumulation and check the discharge line outside for any debris.
  4. Ensure the outlet piping is attached properly and at the correct distance from the foundation of your building.
  5. Test the pump on a dry day by dumping a bucket of water into the reservoir. Take note of how long it takes to start – delays could mean potential malfunctions.
  6. Ensure the pump is straight up – if it is not sitting upright the float arm can become jammed and fail.

If you have any issues or questions, contact a reputable technician to take a look at your system.

Sump Pumps FAQs

A sump pump replacement will cost between $28 and $500, depending on the type you replace it with. If you do the project yourself, it will keep costs lower compared to if you hire someone to do the work. Depending on the damage, your Ontario home insurance may help with replacement or repairs.

On average, sump pumps last 10-15 years. The lifespan is affected by the dirtiness and acidity of the water in your area. Keep an eye on your system - if you notice any malfunctions or delays in functionality, it may be time for a new pump.

If you’ve ever had your basement flooded, live in an area that receives heavy snow/rainfall, or if you live in an area with a high risk of flooding, you should consider installing a sump pump. You can check out the Canadian flood map of high risk areas.

Limit the risk of water related claims with a sump pump

Sump pumps play a crucial role in keeping excess water in your home. Some insurers will offer a discount on specific setups and for having a battery backup model. Please speak to our experts to ensure you are optimizing savings and safety on your next water damage insurance.