Navigating No-fault Sewer Backup

For special districts and public entities, safeguarding communities against the disruptive effects of sewer backups is a paramount concern for districts responsible for wastewater.

No-fault sewer backup coverage serves as a vital protective layer, offering a streamlined solution for cleanup and property damage that eliminates the often complex process of determining fault. Sanitation departments play a pivotal role in addressing the challenges associated with sewer backups, making it essential for these entities to understand the nuances of this coverage to better serve their communities.

Together, risk management, safety measures, and comprehensive coverage can help your organization prepare for and respond effectively to sewer backups when they occur.

To help, this article dives into the approach of addressing sewer backups, emphasizing the pivotal role of “no-fault sewer backup” coverage in conjunction with risk management and safety initiatives available to members.

Understanding No-Fault Sewer Backup Coverage:

“No-fault sewer backup” coverage goes beyond traditional liability considerations by providing a safety net for property owners irrespective of fault. For special districts and public entities, this type of coverage simplifies the claims process and allows for a more efficient response to sewer backup incidents.

By alleviating the burden of proving fault, this coverage facilitates a more straightforward and expedited resolution, benefiting both the property owner and the public entity responsible for the sewer system. In cases of sewer backups, establishing fault can be a complex and time-consuming process. Traditional liability models may require homeowners to prove negligence, which can result in prolonged disputes.

No-fault sewer backup coverage eliminates this obstacle, allowing public entities to focus on swift response and recovery efforts rather than delayed responses and legal battles. For special districts, this means a more efficient use of resources and a faster restoration of normalcy for affected residents at the lowest cost.

Preventative Measures:

While coverage provides a safety net, special districts and public entities should also prioritize preventative measures to mitigate the risk of sewer backups. Regular maintenance, infrastructure upgrades, and community education on responsible waste disposal are essential components of a comprehensive risk management strategy. By investing in preventative measures, public entities not only enhance community resilience, but also contribute to the reduction of claims. This ultimately benefits both the entity and the community it serves.

To augment the efficacy of no-fault sewer backup coverage, special districts and public entities must adopt robust risk management and safety measures. Regular maintenance and inspection of sewer systems, coupled with timely infrastructure upgrades, form the foundation of a proactive risk mitigation strategy.

To support this, the CSD Pool has partnered with RH Borden to provide discounted condition-based sewer maintenance, an approach that allows collections system managers to identify pipes which are at the highest risk for backups in order to direct resources accordingly. Members who use this service as a best practice may qualify for a 33% discount on their General Liability contribution.

Beyond that, community education initiatives on responsible waste disposal contribute to a culture of shared responsibility, reducing the overall risk of sewer backups. Through these measures, public entities not only enhance safety, but also demonstrate a commitment to community welfare.

For interested districts, our Drain Facts campaign provides members with written content to put on their website to help sanitation districts communicate with homeowners. We also offer downloadable resources and information sheets for districts to send to homeowners.

The brochures provide information on 1) what not to flush, 2) who is responsible for what lines and where, and 3) the availability of Sewer Backup coverage under a homeowners policy, which is not automatically provided or offered unless the homeowner asks. If you are interested in ordering a supply of Drain Facts brochures, please reach out to us at info@csdpool.org.

CSD Pool Coverage

Coverage is especially important during events like heavy rainfall or flooding, which require promptly addressing sewer system challenges and assisting property owners in recovery.

Our No-Fault Water Intrusion and/or Sewer Back-up coverage responds to damage to a district’s customer’s home or business, regardless of fault, and is excess of any other collectible coverage available. It pays reasonable expenses incurred for the immediate cleaning and restoration of an affected home or business for purposes of reducing the damage. We pay a preset amount to initiate the cleaning and restoration, without accepting responsibility for the event.

Most CSD Pool members who are in our Property & Liability program have this coverage, with a per-event aggregate limit of $200,000, limited to $10,000 for any one premises, and a shared all-member annual aggregate limit of $1,000,000. Districts can elect to opt out of the coverage by signing an opt-out endorsement annually.

However, we recommend that any district that operates water or wastewater public works (Water, Sanitation, Conservancy, Irrigation, Metropolitan, etc.) should have this coverage.

Member Resources

In the event you have to respond to a sewer backup, which was one of our top causes of loss for Liability in 2022, we have a variety of resources that can help you mitigate your damage.

First, for use at your district, we have created a Sewer Backup Standard Operating Procedure that details what districts should say to homeowners, provides documents to provide to homeowners, and outlines our Drain Facts campaign. This is available to view at csdpool.org/documents.

For fast and reliable cleanup services, we have partnered with SERVPRO to help districts manage a variety of sewer back-up emergencies. With extensive services, including repair for damages from fire and vandalism, and treatment for contaminants and toxic materials like mold or asbestos, in a severe weather emergency, the staff at SERVPRO don’t just provide an outstanding customer service experience; they also ensure that you receive the best pricing possible as a valued member of the CSD Pool.

A list of SERVPRO services available to CSD Pool members at discounted rates is available to view on our website.

Finally, for a comprehensive look at your responsibilities and our resources, check out our webinar on sewer backups: prevention and response.

Next Steps

A comprehensive strategy that intertwines no-fault sewer backup coverage, risk management, and safety measures is essential for special districts and public entities.

By adopting proactive risk mitigation measures, investing in safety initiatives, and leveraging coverage effectively, you can enhance community resilience and minimize the impact of sewer backups on property owners.

In the evolving landscape of public service, a broad understanding and implementation of risk management and safety practices can help you fulfill your commitment to the well-being and safety of the communities you serve.

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