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Backup of Sewer and Drain.

October 5, 2001

On Thursday, August 2, 2001, the greater Chicago area suffered torrential rainfall. Temperatures had been abnormally high, and the violent mixing of hot, moisture-laden air over the land with much cooler air from Lake Michigan produced sudden and unforeseen storms that lasted most of the morning.

Some areas experienced over three inches of rain in one hour. The billions of gallons that fell soon filled the conventional drainage system, but then filled the “deep tunnel” dug to provide emergency relief for situations such as this when too much rain falls too quickly. With the deep tunnel full, the excess water had nowhere to go and so it started to backup through the drainage systems of individual houses. The basements of over 300,000 homes were affected by this waste water, victims of “backup of sewer and drain.”

Those homeowners who saw several inches of filthy water in their basement might have expected that they had insurance coverage, but insurance companies do not always see it the same way. Many homeowners insurance policies actually exclude losses caused by “backup of sewer and drain”. State Farm and Allstate policies in particular do not cover backup of sewer and drain unless it is specifically requested. It can be added by endorsement but only for a limited amount, typically no more than $10,000. Insurance companies like Chubb, AIG and Fireman’s Fund who specialize in the affluent market generally include backup of sewer and drain as part of the policy, with limits equivalent to the amount that the dwelling is insured for.

Homeowners should not assume that torrential rainfall is a rare occurrence. The ten hottest years on record have occurred since 1980 and there is evidence that one result has been a greater frequency and intensity of severe rainstorms.

Backup of sewer and drain is an important coverage. The 300,000 homes in Chicago affected by the August storm are far more than the number damaged by fire every year. Every homeowners policy covers fire, but not every policy will cover backup of sewer and drain. Check that your policy provides this necessary protection.

Chartwell Bulletins are produced by Chartwell Insurance Services, Inc. an independent insurance broker specializing in the personal asset protection of high net worth individuals. Chartwell Bulletins address issues of general interest and since coverages vary by company and by state, should not be taken as an interpretation of a particular policy or advice on any individual situation.

A representative of Chartwell Insurance Services, Inc. will be pleased to discuss all aspects of your personal insurance.  Contact: Rebecca Korach Woan | 312. 645.1200 |