Managing the risks of groundwater damage this spring

Spring is definitely in the air and that means warmer temperatures and the potential for spring flooding.

According to the National Weather Service, Utah’s 2019 snowpack is above average and there is a risk that as the snow melts, it could overwhelm the state’s rivers and streams.

The good news – it’s not too late to purchase flood insurance if your home is in the path of an overflowing river or stream.

The bad news – water that enters the home through the ground below the surface is excluded by flood or homeowner’s insurance. There is no coverage for damage in basements when caused by groundwater seepage.

“When all the rain and groundwater gets saturated and it seeps in, people in Utah call it a flood,” according to local insurance agent, Josh Barnett. “But, insurance companies call it groundwater and it’s not covered,” he said. “So even if someone bought actual flood insurance it’s not going to cover the damage.”

Homes with basements, where there is a high water table, are vulnerable to groundwater seepage.  If you’re unprepared, you’ll pay a hefty price to repair any damages. However, there is an inexpensive solution, according to Barnett.

The first thing to do is “go find a good, decent sump pump and then have it installed professionally,” Barnett said.

Second, buy an optional homeowners policy endorsement called “Sump Pump Failure and Sewer Backup Coverage”.  According to Barnett, the additional policy endorsement will cover any damage if the pump “fails to turn on or keep up with the water.”

Barnett said he lived in the Nibley area during the flooding of 2017 and many of his neighbors would have benefited from a sump pump and the additional policy endorsement. A number of homes sustained water damage from groundwater seepage.

“If you don’t have a sump pump, consider getting one installed,” Barnett reiterated. As temperatures warm up and the snow continues to melt, homeowner could be spared any unnecessary expense.

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