Hit by Irene? Check for This Insurance Rider

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Homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover floods. Flood insurance doesn’t cover basements. So what’s a homeowner to do?

The answer, it turns out, is to try to add riders (in the insurance trade, they’re known as “endorsements”) to your homeowner’s insurance to paper over the gap.

With 300,000 people in the Northeast currently without power, one in particular has come to the fore: the poetically named “Back Up of Sewer, Drain and Sump Pump Coverage.”┬áThis rider (also known as HO-208) covers you if the sump pump in your basement stops working due to a power outage (such as those caused by the recent storm) and your basement floods.

The rider can generate a payout of up to $10,000 if it is tripped. That should cover most claims because, remember, basements are at such risk of water damage that you don’t want to furnish one lavishly.

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But if, for example, you have an extra freezer in your basement, your power goes out, your sump pump goes kaput and there’s a flood, you can recover the cost of the freezer and food.

“The most common loss is due to the failure of a sump pump, either because of a power outage, or due to the sump pump’s failure to keep up with the rising water table,” notes Mario Morales, a spokesman for MetLife Auto & Home.

Like any insurance, whether the rider protects you will come down to your individual circumstances. Note that the language of the “Sump Pump Rider” does have a loophole that says the insurance company doesn’t have to pay in case of “general flooding.”┬áBut for those who are at risk of pumps going kablooey — and if you live in an area where there are often power shortages — a rider might be just the thing.