Most homeowners and commercial insurance policies do NOT include coverage for any damages caused by a sewer back-up and specifically exclude coverage for damages caused by any water back-up from floor drains or other plumbing fixtures. Sewer back-up coverage can usually be obtained by purchasing a special rider at a nominal annual fee. However, most property owners are not aware of these facts.
When a sewer back-up occurs, many property owners may think that BASA is financially responsible for any damages. However, BASA’s years of experience investigating sewer back-up claims indicate that most sewer back-ups are caused by problems in the property owner’s building sewers and/or their private sewer service lateral that connects to the public sewer, not by problems in the public sewer line.
Even if a sewer back-up is apparently caused by a problem in the public sewer line, most people are then distressed to find out that BASA may not be responsible for any damages under state law ( PA Tort Claims Act). Furthermore, BASA is not liable for any sewer backups caused by factors or conditions that are beyond the control of the Authority, for example, floods.
BASA strongly encourages all property owners to review their insurance coverage with their insurance agent. If your policy does not provide coverage for sewer/floor drain backup, BASA highly recommends that all property owners purchase such coverage. This is especially true if you have a finished basement or store anything of value that can be damaged by water in your basement.
A few simple steps can be taken to prevent significant damage or loss of irreplaceable heirlooms. First, do not store valuables in on the floor of your basement. Also, washing machines and dryers should be installed on a platform or blocks to raise them up off the floor. Cardboard boxes do not provide any protection for their contents. Inexpensive plastic storage containers, which are readily available in a variety of sizes, can provide much greater protection for your possessions.