Written by Rochelle Burnside | Last Updated February 24th, 2020Rochelle Burnside produces content on business services. Her advice has been featured in Forbes, Huffington Post, Yahoo Finance, and more.
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 homeowners 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?
Homeowners insurance covers accidents that are sudden and unintended, such as fires, explosions, and theft.
However, homeowners insurance for septics systems has its limitations:
- 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.
- Many insurance companies also 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."
- Some insurance plans won’t provide full coverage to features outside the home, including your septic system.
These factors can make it tricky to find a homeowners insurance company to work with. Some of the most common internal and external damages occur from personal error.
“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. Lang continues, “Internal damage consists of sludge exiting the concrete holding tank. 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.
In fact, Lang notes 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.
The experts from Fantastic Services add that there are a few options outside your basic homeowners insurance plan: "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."
If you think you want to be insured for your septic system, here’s our top choice:
Our recommendation: State Farm
State Farm has insurance that covers service lines entering your home, septic lines included. The plan offers a $500 deductible and a $10,000 limit. And unlike many homeowners insurance plans, this one does cover damage due to wear and tear, rust, frost, or several types of accidental damage caused by the owner.
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, such as 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.
- 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 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.
- 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 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 a 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.
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.
Looking for other options?
Check out our top-ranked home warranty plans. Several companies offer septic system coverage.View Best Home Warranty Companies