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Water Damage and Flood Protection

Flooding and related sewer backup damage is costly for homeowners, businesses, municipalities and insurance companies. But there are steps you can take to help reduce your risk. Take action indoors and out to help prevent flooding and contact your insurance representative if you have questions about your coverage.

Prevent water damage

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Indoors and outdoors, there are simple things you can do to help prevent water damage to your property. Follow these precautions to protect your home from flood risks and water damage:

  • avoid keeping valuable items in the basement

  • don’t pour fats, oils and grease down your drains

  • raise large appliances, furnaces, hot water heaters, electrical panels and oil tanks above any anticipated flood levels

  • use water-resistant building materials below ground level

  • install a sump pump with a battery backup

  • install a backwater valve as recommended by your municipality

    • some municipalities may offer subsidies to offset the installation cost

    • always follow legal requirements set by your municipality

    • some insurers may also provide incentives for installing backwater valves and/or sump pumps

  • reduce home water use during and immediately after heavy rainfalls

  • install flood shields or barriers for basement windows and doors that extend above ground level

  • ensure proper lot grading. if possible, build up the ground around your house so that water will drain away from basement walls

  • landscape with plants that resist soil erosion

  • keep water out of window wells and snow away from the foundation

  • clean and maintain downspouts and eavestroughs at least once a year

  • keep any nearby city storm drains free of leaves and other debris

  • check that sidewalks, patios, decks and driveways don’t shift over time and cause water to drain toward your house

  • disconnect downspouts that are connected to weeping tiles or french drains

  • ensure downspouts extend at least six feet from your basement wall and drain water away from your home and neighbouring properties

Know what’s covered and what’s not covered

Speak to your insurance representative to confirm the specifics of your policy. If you have a swimming pool or hot tub, ask about options to insure it. A home insurance policy typically covers:

  • sudden or accidental water damage caused by indoor plumbing, heating or air conditioning

  • water damage caused by the malfunction of appliances such as washing machines, or dishwashers washing machines is usually covered – but the cost to repair the appliance that caused the problem is not usually covered

  • damage related to the escape of water from a broken water main – whether it occurs on or outside your property

  • water damage to the interior of your home caused by water entering through a roof leak – but the roof damage isn’t covered if it’s due to wear and tear or poor maintenance

Insurance is meant to cover sudden and accidental loss or damage. The following events are either not covered, covered in limited circumstances and/or require optional coverages:

  • Damage arising from the freezing of indoor plumbing may not be covered if:

    • you’re away during the normal heating season, many insurers require plumbing to be drained or your home be checked regularly or daily to ensure that heat is maintained – check with your insurance representative to confirm the necessary intervals for checking the property

    • freezing-related damage that occurs despite these precautions, is typically covered by a home insurance policy

  • Damage arising from ice buildup on roofs and eaves is typically not covered by a standard policy. This is usually due to a problem with attic insulation.

    • Optional coverage for water damage caused by roof ice damming may be available

  • Damage caused by the backing up of sewers and drains is typically not covered by a standard policy.

    • Optional sewer backup is offered by most insurers

  • Overland flooding, which occurs when bodies of fresh water, such as rivers or dams overflow onto dry land, is typically not covered by a standard policy.

    • Optional residential overland flood coverage is now offered by many insurers for the majority of homes across the country and is based on risk. Commonly, this coverage is combined with sewer backup coverage, which is also optional. Even if you don’t live by a lake or river, your home could still experience flood damage from surface or ground water. Check with your insurance representative on cost and availability for your home.

  • Flood damage due to storm surge or tidal waves. These risks impact the small percentage of Canadians who live in coastal areas and are typically not covered by most home insurance policies, nor by optional endorsement.