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Need Advice Basement flooding Insurance Claim being denied

Discussion in 'Homeowners Corner' started by prasads, Jan 7, 2010.

  1. prasads

    prasads New Member

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    We are in a real panic situation and would appreciate some advice.

    On Christmas, our basement got flooded because the sump motor could not keep up with the all the water coming in from the melting snow. We have an Allstate Deluxe Plus Home Insurance policy with the "Sewer Backup" - we called them and after checking our policy they sent in the emergency services (Service Master) the next day... they confirmed that while they may not cover the price of a new motor, they will cover the damages... subsequently, the emergency crew came in and ripped up all the carpet and dry-wall and spent over 4 days with about 35 dryers/de-humidifiers... the basement is now dry but ripped apart...

    The next day we got a plumber in to replace the motor - even though it was humming we decided to repace it given that it was anyway old.

    Al along, Allstate has been telling us that they will be covering the replacement of the carpets and the emergency services. An adjustor came in last week and now tells us that our policy (even though it has the additional sewer back-up option) does not cover the results of the damage and that the claim will be denied.

    We are poring through the policy details now and notice that in (real small letters) it says that the sewer backup covers backups from sewers and drains... is the sump not considered part of this?

    We are not sure what our options or next steps should be - any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks.
     
  2. luftinarr

    luftinarr Member

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    That seems to be the case with many insurance companies. Sump is never part of the coverage. We have USAA and our basement flooded in 2002 (when we lived in another house) due to the sump pump failing and our claim was denied because we didn't have flood insurance. So I asked about sewer back-up and that wasn't applicable either because it was the sump pump that failed. SAME thing happened to my father in 2009, but he has Nationwide. It's a lost cause. You're going to end up paying for it all out of pocket. We did, my father did, it's a pain in the a**.

    Sorry to be such a downer.
     
  3. hero

    hero New Member

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    Does anyone have any suggestions on how to prevent/minimize an issue like this? I had thought of installing a water alarm like you might have in a data center. But I doubt that is a cheap option. But "cheap" is relative to how finished your basement is, right?

    Thoughts?
     
  4. flynnibus

    flynnibus Well-Known Member Forum Staff

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    A common addition is battery backup. One common cause of floods like this is power failures. So people have a battery backup to run the pump in those cases.

    The other is water alarms - they are common when people are concerned over leaks/floods.

    What you do when you have the alarm though is going to really depend on how bad your water intake is. If it's not bad.. a shop vac will do. If it's bad, you obviously need a backup pump of sorts.

    Sump pumps do fail - so it's a common mishap if people don't realize the pump isn't working. Sometimes just dilligence will take you a long way (test the pump periodically so you can replace if need be before its a diaster).

    Me? I don't have a finished basement, and the area the sump is in is lower by 6". So I figure I have a buffer in which to react if need be. I don't need proactive methods as much.
     
  5. flynnibus

    flynnibus Well-Known Member Forum Staff

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    alarms look like less then $50 based on some searching. So I would say that's your best preventative measure. But you need to have a plan on what to do if the alarm goes off too :)

    Looks like a battery powered system is the solution. Instead of just powering the existing pump, the battery system powers an alternative pump. This way it covers both power and pump failures.
     
  6. stoner

    stoner Member

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    What may be an even better backup to the electric sump pump is a water powered second pump. It uses the water pressure from your incoming water lines going to the water heater to power a second pump in the sump. It carruies out the water used for pressure as well as the sump water. I have one that I have tested, but so far never needed due to electric pump failure. The good thing about it is it isn't limited by battery life if there is a primary pump or power failure. As long as you have water pressure, you have backup - no electrical involvement at all. Any/most plumbers can do an install.
     
  7. rkitek

    rkitek Member

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    We have a rider on our USAA insurance for the sump pump instead of flood insurance. You should check to see if that is available to you for the future.
     
  8. beahmer

    beahmer Member

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    Ditto - think it costs me $40/year for this coverage
     
  9. luftinarr

    luftinarr Member

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    We have that as well, but well after the fact.
     
  10. redon1

    redon1 aka Aphioni

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    thank ALL of you for posting this info- we are going to get out infront of this before anything happens.

    Prasads- sorry that happened to you! :(
     
  11. hells_bells

    hells_bells New Member

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    We installed a battery backup sump pump in addition to the regular sump pump. It was a Watchdog System and can be purchased at Home Depot. Probably $250 including the battery. Take about 4 hours to install but well worth it if you have a power outage or your main pump fails.
     
  12. Suttonan

    Suttonan New Member

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    This is about what I would expect. In my previous home, which was already over 30 years old at the time, the basement was flooded when the main water line into the house busted. We were told by State Farm that they don't cover "any water that comes from below the ground" and that the only way a wet basement is covered is if the water gets there by flowing over the ground and into the house in some way. I was not happy. Of course the "basement" in my SWTH is above ground, so I'm good to go now. But I'd definitely have a rider or something to provide extra protection if it were not.
     
  13. prasads

    prasads New Member

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    Thanks all for the feedback. We are still fighting Allstate over this. Since they initially agreed it was covered and sent over people for the emergency cleanup portion,they are agreeing to cover those costs - but not the costs of putting it back in place... We are trying to convince them that since they said it was covered and ripped it apart in the first place, they are also responsible for putting it back to how it was originally. not getting anywhere though yet :-(


    One thing we learnt out of this is that we need someone on our side (cannot trust our Allstate agent who has not even returned our multiple messages for advice!) who can read these policies and tell us where our other open vulnerabilities are - our concern is that there may be some other "open" thing similar to the sump motor issue out there in our policy?

    Thoughts?
     
  14. Roofer911

    Roofer911 New Member

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    Very important, has the source of the water coming into your basement been solved?? if not, the next heavy melting snow will cause another flood if not fixed!! Most likely you have an ice dam problem which is caused by improper attic ventilation and /or an improperly pitched gutter. I may be reached at 703-475-2446 to answer any questions you may have.
     
  15. afgm

    afgm Ashburn Farm Resident

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    This is a big reason this forum is so useful. Topics like this one are very informative. I am checking my policy tonight.

    As for the sump pump. I replace mine when the warranty is up on it (five years for the current one). Fairly easy to do by yourself, and they are available at Home Depot or Lowes. After the first replacement I keep the working, although older, sump pump as a back up. Sorta like a spare tire. It doesn't help for power outages, but it does minimize the risk of a pump going bad in the middle of the night, and a spare is needed. I also have a water alarm.

    For maintenance, in the spring I always check the pump and the sump tank. I remove any debris and clean it out using a wet/dry vac. Then I run clean water through the pump for 10 minutes or so, which cleans out and confirms that the exit pipes are clear.

    For those with walk out basements, make sure to check the drain at the entrance to the basement. Keep that clear and clean. Normally this drain feeds directly into the sump pump.
     
  16. Roofer911

    Roofer911 New Member

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    Having a good working sump pump is very important but I'm concerned you may have a potentially serious problem with ice dam on your roof and/or gutter that caused the flood in your basement.

    Ice dams happen when snow on a roof melts from sunlight or heat from within the house. The melted snow runs off the roof down into the gutter, which may be at below-freezing temperatures, where it freezes. The ice builds up and works its way under the tar paper under the shingles where it can again melt and enter the house. If this is an ice dam problem which I suspect it is, water is traveling inside your walls and is settling down in your basement. Many times, you will not see any signs of damage on the floors above. Another big concern is the development of black mold (not covered under homeowners insurance) which can be hazardous for those living in the house and can be extremely expensive to have removed.

    We offer free no obligated roof inspections, better to be safe than sorry!! Please ask for Steven at 703-475-2446 or you may fill out our “Request Free Estimate” form at http://www.roofer911.com
     
  17. vacliff

    vacliff "You shouldn't say that."

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    Roofer-
    It is highly unlikely that any kind of ice dam build up will create flooding in a sump pump pit. Sorry, but there is no correlation between the two. Ice damming causes damage to walls as it runs down. It is not possible for this type of water to cause a sump pump pit to overflow and stop working.
    Ice damming can be a serious problem, but not the one posed here.
     
  18. Roofer911

    Roofer911 New Member

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    This customer complained that water was leaking down in his basement from melting snow which is almost definately caused by ice dam build-up. Most of the time the water doesn't travel on the outside of the walls but instead inside which is not noticed untill walter shows in the basement.
     
  19. vacliff

    vacliff "You shouldn't say that."

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    Here is what was said "On Christmas, our basement got flooded because the sump motor could not keep up with the all the water coming in from the melting snow."

    Water that comes into the sump pump comes from the foundation drains. If there is a lot of water coming into the foundation drain (from melting snow outside), and the sump pump stops working, you get flooding.
    Ice dams cannot cause this situation.
    They simply need a new sump pump.
     
  20. hells_bells

    hells_bells New Member

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    That doesn't sound right. The water was coming into the sump from the ground. I would not call this a "roofing issue".
     

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