A Surefire Way to Suck the Spirit Out of Owning Your First Home

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A Surefire Way to Suck the Spirit Out of Owning Your First Home

Remember that feeling of excitement when you bought your first home?

How about that sense of independence?

I remember driving to the mortgage broker’s office to sign our lives away.

My wife and I dreaded it, yet the possibilities thrilled us almost more than we could imagine:

  • Our castle.
  • Our stuff.
  • Our way.

Driving back home?

We felt shell-shocked, but optimistic. Cautious smiles on our faces evolved into full-out grins.

Our idea was how wonderful life was going to be. We could take it easy, enjoy our private time, and start building a family.

The Spare Time Never Happened

We got pregnant sooner than expected.

And it seemed like the more we tried to cut corners, the more expenses popped up.

I suppose we could’ve seen this coming.

After all, we bought a home in an older city neighborhood.

We loved it.

Yet we were constantly surprised by the costs of home maintenance.

With the price of everything else rising, we cut corners wherever we could to save money.

One of these places was on our homeowners insurance.

Like many first-time homeowners, we viewed sewer and sump coverage as just another option that lined our insurance agent’s pockets.

We saw little need for it.

So we kept the money it would cost to get the best possible coverage in our area, believing we were doing the right thing.

Delight Turned to Despair

We weren’t patting ourselves on the back about a year later when a freak sewer line break poured 15,000 gallons of raw sewage into our home.

We were horrified. Think about it.

Yet we didn’t worry (too much).

We assumed our homeowners insurance would cover it.

Boy, were we wrong.

It covered almost nothing.

Imagine the sense of panic as the walls began closing in.

Although we did find some relief from another endorsement to our policy that we’d purchased.

We never would’ve thought of looking for it but had hired a good contractor who knew his stuff.

Ignorance is Not Bliss

Unfortunately, we soon learned the difference  between classes of water loss: Category 1, Category 2, and Category 3 and how much that matters.

Most of the extensive damage to our home was not covered.

And there we were.

Up sewage creek…

With a bill for $138,500.

Filled with unrelenting anguish knowing we could’ve avoided this.

Informed Decisions Protect Your Home and Family

Now, this tragedy didn’t really happen to us, but it could have.

But it did happen to this couple in Oregon.  They may never recover from a ginormous sewage spill and inadequate homeowners insurance coverage.

Heartbreaking stories like this happen often enough that we should all pay attention.

Water and sewage losses happen all the time.

Usually there’s no warning.

The most common cause of damage is a malfunctioning lift at the city waste station.

Protect Your Home, Savings, and Security

Your home is the biggest financial investment you’ll probably ever make.

The risk of inadequate homeowners insurance is not worth it.

Sewer and sump coverage is essential to your financial independence.

Plus it’s also usually well worth popping for the cost of an supplemental endorsement available for extra coverage beyond what the basic endorsement for sump and sewer offers.

Need more proof?

While it’s true that a simple water damage cleanup can run around $500, there are many things to be taken into consideration along with class of water.

The action taken by the water is just one of the variables.

It matters whether damage was caused by a water backup, like when a city lift station malfunction occurs.  The second most common cause of a water back up is tree roots in drains.

When water has nowhere to go, it overflows.

That’s what happened in June 2014 when Minnehaha Creek couldn’t handle the unprecedented levels of rain. It was stretched beyond capacity.

In St. Paul, the Mighty Mississippi flooded some areas, and there were sewage spills.

Sometimes water overflow is caused by something less terrifying than a flood. But any water, clean or not, bears potential to wield catastrophic damage to your home.

Maybe the water faucets were not turned off and you went shopping.  (Distractions happen.)

Water always takes the path of least resistance.

Up, down or sideways.

Sometimes all three.

Mold starts forming within 24-48 hours of water damage, depending on the class of water involved.

Learn from the Misfortune of Others

Going back to the beleaguered Oregon couple. We don’t know if they will ever get their happy life back on track at the level it was before they discovered they weren’t properly insured.

What we do know from talking to plenty of home and property insurance agents is that far too many homeowners ignore the risk and get stung.

They view the relatively low cost of protecting themselves from this potential disaster as something to be avoided.

They think or hope it won’t happen to them.

Don’t let this be you.

When you’re just starting out is not the time to take a risk like this.

Just telling it like it is.

Steer Your Future Where You Want to Go

You’ve tied yourself to a home in which you hope to build a solid future.

Perhaps you’re expecting your first child.

Is approximately $500 for an average home valued at or near $200,000 is really too much to protect all this?

Yes it costs money. Everything does.

You may have to get creative to find the cash.

Here are Some Ideas to Find $500 for Sump and Sewer Insurance:

  • You’ve heard this one before, but it’s worth repeating. If you’ve got a Starbucks habit, do the math. Could you get farther ahead faster by investing a couple hundred dollars into a cappuccino maker?
  • Review your monthly food expenditures. I know how easy it is to eat out more than I realize. One month we looked at grocery and restaurant expenditures, and our eyes just about popped out of our heads. Our $500 was right there.
  • If you haven’t checked the insulation in your attic, it can save gas and electricity. Here’s a terrific guide from the Department of Energy.
  • Replace air filters on a regular basis. When they get plugged up with dust and other debris, your HVAC system works harder. Aside from that, better air equals better health.
  • Since we’re talking about water damage, this is a great opportunity to remind you to check all your sinks (underneath, too) and toilets for leaks and gaskets that need to be replaced. Be sure to check all faucets, indoors and out. It’s not unusual for outside spigots to drip more as they age. Keep an eye on your water bill.
  • Look into energy tax credits to which you might be entitled for making improvements to your home that increase its energy efficiency.
  • Avoid the locksmith by getting extra keys made. One visit to unlock a car or home door could run up to $100 or more depending on the circumstances.

Your Insurance Agent is Your Ally

I encourage you to take advantage of the expertise your insurance agent has in understanding what level of sump and sewer insurance coverage will benefit you most.

Call him or her and schedule a review.

You owe it to yourself and your family to fully know what you are and aren’t covered for when it comes to water and sewage damage.

It’s true that water damage restoration helps us earn a living. We’d like to see more of the jobs we do be less of a burden on homeowners, especially those just starting out.


As a smart homeowner, do your homework.

Get familiar with the characteristics and quirks of your home and the area you live in.

You’ll never regret the time you invest in gaining this knowledge.

It will help you help yourself and the professionals who advise you.

There are far too many variables for your insurance agent to be able to fully understand your unique circumstances. Help her minimize the chance of you encountering a large loss that knocks you off your feet.

Part of the joy of greater independence in owning your own home, which is awesome by the way, is taking greater control of your finances through self-education.

If your journey leads you to believe you need to look for a new insurance agent, we’d be happy to give you names and numbers of reputable agents we know.

Just call us at 763-789-9600 for that or to get other questions answered.  We will answer what we can and offer a referral you to other qualified experts when that will serve you better.