What Coverage Can I Get for My Septic System?

Rochelle Burnside

Last Updated: June 11th, 2020

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Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly described State Farm as the best option for septic line protection. While State Farm does offer service line coverage, septic lines are NOT fully covered. State Farm's Service Line Endorsement policy only covers the wastewater line between the house and septic tank. It excludes coverage for septic systems, including motors, pumps, tanks, leach fields, and piping extending from the tank to the leach fields.

Septic system malfunctions can make for expensive accidents. The average cost to repair a septic tank is $3,198, and that's lowballing it compared to the cost of installing a new system or entirely replacing an old one, which will knock someone back several thousand dollars.

It's natural to get cold feet for a septic system when you think of it like this. "We have seen deals fall apart for originally enthusiastic clients, who upon completing their inspections and learning about what having a system of this sort means ultimately backed out," says Alison Bernstein, real estate expert for Suburban Jungle. "They became concerned about the price for a potential replacement, materials, maintenance, etc."

If you have a septic system, you're faced with a set of unique challenges that aren't familiar to everyone: sewage backup, leach field overflow, and damaged pipes, to name a few. And with some of these challenges, you can face major costs for repair.

It's natural that you want a homeowner's insurance or warranty plan that can help you take care of the costs, whether it's damage to your property or damage to the system.

If you're looking for the best options for your septic system, we're going to cover the two main types of coverage — homeowners insurance and home warranty plans — and discuss their similarities and differences. Neither will cover every type of damage to your system, and that's why you should choose your coverage wisely and understand what it offers. Read on to find the best types of coverage for a septic system, and our recommendations.

What will homeowners insurance cover for my septic system?

In general, homeowners insurance policies cover damage to your home caused by accidents that are sudden and unintended, such as fires, explosions, and theft.However, septic system coverage is limited by the following exclusions:

  • Homeowner negligence— Basic homeowners insurance won't cover anything that was caused by your negligence, such as flushing solid objects down your system or placing heavy objects over the tank.
  • Acts of God — Many insurance companies don't cover flood and earthquake damage — you'll likely need a separate policy to address these perils. As the experts from Fantastic Services note, "Catastrophe insurance policies have a role when disastrous events harm your house. This type of insurance accompanies your standard homeowners' coverage."
  • Systems exterior to the home's foundation — Some insurance plans won't provide full coverage to features outside the home, including your septic system.

Here's the rub: Septic systems are generally located outside the four walls of your home. Consequently, it's regular for damage to the septic system itself to be unprotected by a standard homeowners insurance policy, unless the company offers a specific add-on septic system policy.

Not Covered By Homeowners Insurance: Most Damage to the Septic System Itself

"External damage consists of parking or driving a heavy piece of equipment over the septic tank itself," explains Garrett Lang, CMO of A1 Porta Potty. "Septic tanks are typically 1,000–2,000-gallon concrete boxes. If a heavy enough truck drives over the top of a septic tank, it could cave in the holding tank." Homeowners insurance usually won't cover that, and Lang notes that the only way to fix this damage is to replace the tank.

Negligence can also result in internal damage that most homeowners' insurance policies won't cover. "Internal damage consists of sludge exiting the concrete holding tank," Lang explains. "This is what happens when you do not pump the tank every few years. . . . When it dries it can clog up your distribution box or lateral lines and stop the excess water from leaving the tank, rendering your plumbing useless. The only way to remove the dried sludge is to dig up the system." Again, not likely to be something an insurance policy will help you with.

Covered By Homeowners Insurance: Damage to Your Home Caused By Septic Problems

In fact, Lang advises that most insurance companies aren't going to help until the septic system damages your house, such as in instances where the system clogs and floods your home.

What will a home warranty cover for my septic system?

Unlike homeowners insurance, a home warranty policy covers the appliances in/around your home from normal wear and tear. Most home warranty plans won't cover these circumstances:

  • Pre-existing conditions — Appliances that are already damaged, don't qualify for coverage. Many home warranty policies require you to wait 30 days before the plan will take effect to ensure that you didn't sign for a plan because you knew one of your devices needed immediate repair.
  • Improper care — Appliances with unnatural wear and tear (such as a system damaged from the failure to pump it) won't qualify for home warranty coverage, either. You'll have to know how to take care of your septic system to be sure the damage was not inflicted by your household.
  • Appliances and systems not specifically mentioned — Appliances not outlined for coverage in the plan won't be eligible. In other words, you're likely going to need a warranty plan with add-on coverage to take care of your septic system; most warranty providers don't include septic systems in their basic packages, but offer septic policy coverage for an additional price.
  • Out-of-network technician damage — If you hire a technician outside of a home warranty companies' network, once you sign its contract, you could be out of luck for any damages the technician would create. "There are many unskilled plumbers out there and amateur septic system installation is a common issue," explain the experts at Fantastic Services. "Before you book a service, know how to find a reliable plumber near you."

Coverage for a septic system can be easier to find with a home warranty company than some homeowners insurance providers, which typically require you to submit your information for a quote before they'll answer questions.

Here is our top pick for septic system coverage under a home warranty:

Our recommendation: Choice Home Warranty

Choice Home Warranty logoChoice Home Warranty is our top-rated home warranty company in the industry. The company has been in business for over a decade, and you can choose septic system coverage for $120 per year and a septic tank pumping for $65 per year. Choice Home Warranty also covers septic system parts, so if items like the tank, line, or pump itself break down, Choice Warranty can help.

As Choice Home Warranty's website notes, "The sewage ejector pump, septic tank and line from the house are just a couple of things that are covered in a basic package. There are a few things that we can't cover however, so be sure to read the fine print."

Does a manufacturer's warranty cover a septic system?

You can't rely on a manufacturer's warranty for your septic system like you might be able to for home appliances like your washing machine or oven.

"As far as manufacturers go, there are really no manufacturers' warranties," Lang explains. "The entire system consists of individual pieces installed by an independent contractor."

And besides, the average life of a septic system is 25 to 30 years. Most manufacturer's warranties only cover a fraction of that time for appliances, so relying on a warranty wouldn't have been a good lifetime option even if it was an option.

Are there any other septic protection plans to know about?

The experts from Fantastic Services add that there are a few options outside your basic homeowners insurance: "A service line coverage saves a lot of trouble when damages occur. The policy covers any cost of repairs caused by the lines which provide water, power, and natural gas to your property. They'll also compensate you if a tree root pierces right through your service line." For example, HomeServe USA, offers protection plans that cover damages to plumbing service lines, including sewer and septic. For example, the Exterior Sewer/Septic Line Coverage Plan covers the following:

  • Locating the blockage
  • Excavation (and backfilling)
  • Replacement or repair of pipes, seals, and joints
  • Unblocking
  • Fitting of external valves
  • Pipe cutting, fusing, and welding
  • Restoration of your grass, yard, landscaping, and pavement, when it was disturbed by a covered repair

In sum

Homeowners thankfully have a couple options for septic system coverage, and some warranty and insurance plans might be worth looking into. However, you should also expect that your policy won't cover everything and plan for routine maintenance on your septic system.

With regular maintenance and vigilance, your septic system should have very few accidents.

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