My client had a back up of raw sewage into his home from a blockage in a plumbing line.  He insures his home with American Traditions.  The insurance company denied the claim based on an exclusion for “water damage” that results from a “back up of water through a sewer or drain.”

Today, I filed a declaratory judgment action against the insurance company for wrongfully denying the claim.  There are numerous reasons why I believe that the claim is covered.

First, there is a significant difference between “water damage” and damage from raw sewage.  Case law indicates that those two things are two completely different types of loss.  Thus, while water damage may be excluded, damage from raw untreated sewage is not excluded under the insurance policy.

Second, this was not a back up “through a sewer or drain.”  Sewers and drains are outbound lines which begin at the property line and take sewage from the property.  The lines that travel from the plumbing fixtures in the house to the property line are not considered “sewers and drains” for purposes of homeowners policies.

In this case, and in most of my insurance cases, if I win, the insurance company must pay my fees and costs, and if I lose, I’ll work for free.