Did you know that water damage accounts for more than half of all home insurance claims in Canada? Unfortunately many homeowners do not think about sewer systems and stormwater management until there is a problem. Just because you live on top of a hill, or the fact that you’ve never had any issues with basement flooding in the past does not mean that you are in the clear. Many people assume their insurance policy will cover water damage but there are different kinds of water damage, which may or may not be included in a standard property insurance policy.
Homeowners insurance does cover water damage but is very specific on the different forms of water damage that is covered. At the very least, your property insurance should include coverage for any sudden or accidental discharge of water in your home. For instance, an appliances overflows or leaks, or a water line breaking. For insurance companies, water damage refers to damage caused by water that hasn’t entered your home from the ground or sewer.
Water damage caused by water coming into your home from drains, pipes, septic tank, down spouts or eavestroughs is classified as sewer back-up. Although sewer back-up happens for a number of reasons, the most common one is rain or melting snow overwhelming the city sewer system. Sewer back-up coverage is not included in your homeowners insurance policy, however it can be added as an optional coverage.
Overland flooding refers to water that accumulates upon or submerges land which is usually dry resulting from the unusual and rapid accumulation of run off surface waters from any source, including torrential rainfall and snow melt. Also the rising, breaking out or overflow of any body of fresh water.
Now that you’re familiar with the various forms of damage caused by water, here’s what you can do to protect yourself:
• Shovel snow away from your home to prevent snowbanks from building up against the sides. This prevents melting snow from seeping into your basement through the foundation.
• Clean your gutters regularly to prevent blockage and ensure water is draining properly.
• Check your roof for unsealed areas, such as missing shingles and out of shape flashing.
• Keep a record of your belongings using our home inventory check-list. Having a list of items can be extremely helpful in case you do sustain water damage and need to file an insurance claim. Consider storing valuable items on higher levels of your home since the basement is one of the parts of your home most vulnerable to water damage.
• Seal cracks. In most cases, cracks can be effectively sealed from inside the basement.
• Clear storm grates. Clogged storm sewer drains can cause water to flow onto your property.
• Install a sump pit and sump pump. Select the right sump pump for your home by ensuring the motor is large enough to support it. Ensure your sump pump has its own outlet and circuit breaker, as well as a battery backup in the event of a power failure. You may also want to install a warning device to signal water build-up in your sump pump.
• Redirect Downspouts. If your downspout is connected to the municipal sewer system, disconnect it and extend it so that water is directed to a permeable surface about 2 metres away from your foundation.
• Install a mainline backwater valve to protect all basement plumbing, including the catch basin.
• Install a rain barrel. Collecting rain water before it hits the ground will help to reduce dampness around your foundation.
• If you are going to be away from home for more than a day, be sure to turn off your main water supply and appoint a caretaker to check your house regularly.
For more information, contact one of our expert advisors today.