No one wants to have a problem with the septic system. A septic problem can mean a lot of expenses and trouble for a homeowner. So it’s only natural that most homeowners want to know if their insurance covers septic problems. As usual, the answer is a little complicated, but we’ll break it down below.

What caused the problem?

There are quite a few things that can cause a problem with the septic tank. The nature of the problem will be part of what determines whether homeowner’s insurance will cover the problem. The truth is that the vast majority of issues happen because the tank wasn’t maintained properly, and these incidents are typically not covered.

Tanks sometimes fail because they were installed improperly or they aren’t the proper design for the home, and these problems are also not covered by typical homeowner’s insurance. What is covered are problems that the homeowner could do nothing to prevent. Damage occurring in the main home which spreads to the septic tank is often covered, as are certain “acts of God” other than earthquakes and floods, which are typically only covered with separate riders.

The cost of replacing or fixing a problem septic tank can be expensive, running anywhere from $600 to as much as $5,000. The exact number always depends on the size of the tank, what the tank is made of, the nature of the problem, and even where the tank is placed in a yard. The national average for tank repair is just over $1,500, but if the drain field is a problem then costs can quickly escalate.

Why aren’t septic tanks covered?

Most homeowners’ insurance coverage only covers the actual home and things attached to it, such as the garage. The walls and roof of a home are considered integral parts of the structure, but the pipes and septic tank in the yard are not.

Homeowners insurance often comes with available riders that can be purchased separately. These can be adapted to cover specific items or situations. For example, a rider — also sometimes referred to as a floater — can cover something like high-value jewelry or a specific event such as a flood.

It is also possible to get a rider to cover items not normally covered because they are not attached to the home. Many insurance companies specifically offer riders to cover the septic system.

How to keep the septic system safe

To minimize the possibility of any septic surprise, there are a couple things you can do. Check your policy before you sign. Before you get homeowners’ insurance, ask specifically about the septic system and make sure you’re covered. Find out under what precise circumstances you are covered and not covered for septic issues.

Get a rider if necessary. If you’re not covered for most septic issues, ask about the possibility of supplemental coverage. It can be expensive to repair or replace a septic system, so it’s worth it to have good coverage.

And keep up with maintenance. Regardless of your coverage situation, keeping up septic system maintenance is always smart. Call a quality company like NoCo Septic to do regular service on the tank and identify issues before they start.

Protect the system

There are some things you can do every day to keep a home septic system in good shape. These include running no more than one load of wash in a day, never pouring any oils or fats down the sinks, and avoiding long showers. It’s also a good idea not to keep anything heavy, like a motorhome or truck, sitting on top of the tank.

Installing the tank properly and maintaining it regularly makes it more likely that a septic tank issue will be covered. And while most homeowners’ policies do not cover the most common issues with septic tanks, it is possible to get a rider to provide that coverage. Whatever the insurance issue, it’s always a good idea to find out exactly where you stand before an issue arises.