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Severe weather season is coming – do what you can now to help protect your property

Mar 21, 2024 | By: Rob de Pruis, National Director, Consumer and Industry Relations, IBC
Severe weather season is coming – do what you can now to help protect your property

You have heard the phrase ‘winter is coming’, well, now severe weather is coming. Spring is just around the corner and with the warmer temperatures comes a host of new threats to our property.

First, spring showers and the spring thaw bring the potential for flooding and water damage across the country. Second, spring usually kicks off natural catastrophe season in Canada, which typically runs from April to October, although severe weather can strike at any time of year.

(Side note: The timing and title of ‘natural catastrophe season’  is debatable, however, considering we’ve seen extreme weather events in almost every month over the last decade or so. Insured catastrophic losses in Canada now routinely exceed $2 billion annually. In 2022 the figure was $3.4B and 2023 saw $3.1B as the loss total. To put this into context, using today’s dollars: between 1983 to 2008, Canadian insurers averaged about $422 million a year in severe weather-related losses.)

While you can’t always protect against every weather threat, there are steps you can take to help mitigate risk and help protect your property. Here are few things you can do – in the short and long term:

  • Frequently inspect and maintain your roof, heating system, eavestroughs, downspouts, water tank, shutoff valves, plumbing fixtures, circuit breakers and landscape grading around the property. Do not let poor maintenance potentially exacerbate damage risks.

  • Anchor and cover outdoor furniture and equipment that could potentially move, fall or fly during a storm. Be proactive and vigilant in this regard whenever possible.

  • Trim branches that are close to your home and/or where you park your vehicle(s).

  • Clear your eavestroughs of leaves, debris and extend downspouts at least 6 feet away from your home. This can help prevent water in your basement and/or water seepage.

  • Install or maintain a backflow valve that helps prevent sewage backing up into your basement. *Check with your municipality before installing a backflow valve.

  • When renovating, consider installing impact or fire-resistant windows, doors, roof and siding, including garage doors. For in-depth information about wildfire resilience and steps you can take to help minimize wildfire risk, review these valuable resources from FireSmart Canada.

  • If you have questions about what is and is not covered in your policy/policies, speak with your insurance rep. and ask questions – they are on your side and want to help. Ask about things like overland flood coverage, sewer backup coverage, insured perils vs. uninsured perils, etc.

Another good tip for this time of year is to create and/or update your home inventory. A current home inventory of your possessions and their associated values will help you and your insurance rep. determine the appropriate coverage for your policy – and help in the unfortunate event of a claim.

Being prepared for the unexpected and doing what you can to help safeguard your home before potential disaster strikes is an important part of risk management. For additional tips and advice, review the Stay Protected section of our site.

About This Author

In his 30 years in the insurance industry, Rob de Pruis has held various senior leadership positions in claims and risk management at some of Canada’s leading insurance companies. As National Director, Consumer and Industry Relations, Rob oversees the activities of IBC’s Consumer Information Centres across the country, and leads the internal coordination of natural disaster preparation and response while liaising with IBC’s member companies. Rob also facilitates collaboration between the insurance industry and relevant stakeholders on special projects and initiatives, and acts as IBC’s corporate spokesperson on consumer-related issues.