In a recent report released by The Insurance Bureau of Canada, analysts estimate losses related to water damage cost insurance companies and Canadian policyholders at least $1.7 billion every year. This makes water damage one of the leading causes of property damage nationwide, and has prompted industry analysts to state that “water is the new fire”.
Typically, your homeowner policy covers water damage caused by:
- If water suddenly and accidentally escapes from a water main, an issue with a plumbing, heating, sprinkler or air-conditioning system or a container inside your home for holding water.
- If water suddenly and accidentally escapes from a container outside your home for holding water, unless it is caused by freezing.
- If water enters your home through an opening which has been created suddenly and accidentally by an event covered in your insurance policy.
- If water enters your home through your roof because of accumulation of ice or snow on the roof or eaves trough.
But other sources of water damage such as floods, burst water mains or pipes can happen without warning, even if you don”t live near a river, or any number of bodies of water. One heavy rainstorm can change everything because water damage can come in all different shapes and sizes.
Floods occur whenever rain or melting snow produces more water than the land can readily absorb, or the sewage system can process. Because this kind of flooding tends to happen quickly, and without warning, it is important to be prepared.
Use the following tips to protect your family and belongings from floods:
- Keep an up-to-date home inventory and other important papers in a secure place. If you must evacuate, take these items with you. Also, keep exact copies in a place away from home, such as a bank safety-deposit box.
- Check portable radios and flashlights. Make sure you have new batteries on hand.
- Be alert to downed electrical wires and gas leaks. Electricity travels through water, so report downed wires as soon as possible. The damage may not be obvious if the equipment was under water or exposed to moisture.
- Document the damage with photos, and contact your insurance representative as soon as possible. Whenever possible, keep evidence of damage and loss for the claims adjuster.
Standard homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage; however, in certain cases, flood insurance is available for commercial insurance risks. If your home has been renovated to convert your basement into a living space, the potential damage due to flooding could be even more costly.
If you are unsure as to the level of flood damage coverage that you may (or may not!) have on your policy, be sure to read through your policy or contact your insurance broker to verify.
As Seepage losses are considered to be maintenance concerns. As such, seepage losses are not covered under a typical policy, as they are not considered “Sudden and Accidental”.
For example: There is no coverage when water enters your basement through a crack in the foundation or your roof leaks and there is no visible damage to the roof.
If you have freezing coverage on your policy, it is important to understand what your responsibilities are as the policy holder in order to ensure that coverage of the property remains valid.
If you are leaving your property unoccupied for 4 consecutive days or more during the winter (i.e. Going away on a week’s vacation, heading south for the winter), it is required that you take one of the following measures, in order to ensure coverage:
- Turn your water main valve off and drain your water intake lines.
- Maintain an acceptable temperature in the home to avoid any possible freezing, and have the property checked daily by a trusted person.
- Have your heating system connected by a monitored heating alarm to a station providing 24 hr service
Are you covered?
NEVER assume that you have enough coverage, always check with your insurance broker. If you have any concerns about your coverage, or would like us to review your policyholder responsibilities with you, please contact us and we will be happy to speak with you.