People often consider fire to be the greatest risk to their home, but what many homeowners don’t realize is that water damage is one of the most common insurance claims made in Canada. When water seeps into your house, there’s usually destruction to walls, windows, and floors. Belongings and furniture stored below ground level can also be harmed, and at the worst, there’s a risk of mold growth.
The costs associated with water damage are high. In June of 2013, homeowners in Calgary were devastated by flooding from heavy rains. In fact, up until the Fort MacMurray fires in 2016, this flood was the costliest disaster in Canadian history, with $1.7 billion in insurable damages and an estimated $5 billion in total damages.
Most homeowners assume their home is covered for all types of water damage, including flooding. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, so it’s important to review your policy regularly to make sure you aren’t left holding the bag for costly claims.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF WATER COVERAGE?
Water can enter your home in a number of ways, which is why there are distinct policy options for homeowners. Keep in mind that different insurers will call these by different names, or may combine some options.
Here are three types of options that cover water damage:
– Sewer back-up
– Water and sewer lines
– Overland water
What is Sewer Back-Up Coverage?
Sewer back-up options are pretty self-explanatory, but most people don’t realize they’re usually an add-on to a home insurance policy. Heavy rainfall or an overloaded city sewer system can put your house at risk. It’s a small addition to your policy that makes a big difference, so be sure to ask a broker to review your current insurance to ensure it’s there.
What is Water and Sewer Line Coverage?
Also known as service line coverage, water and sewer line coverage is not frequently included in basic home insurance policies. Technically, homeowners also own the various lines attached to their homes, including sewer and drain piping, water piping, and even utility lines. Repairs and replacements may cost anywhere from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars. This option is a fairly new add-on for most insurers, and it’s worth having a conversation with your broker to determine if it’s a good investment.
What is Overland Water Coverage?
Overland water coverage is the type of coverage most people assume they have, but don’t. This type of coverage offers more comprehensive protection from weather incidents, including overflowing lakes and rivers, heavy rain, or rapid snowmelt. However, it’s important to note that most overland water coverage doesn’t include flooding from bodies of saltwater, such as flooding caused by tsunamis.
HOW CAN I CHECK MY COVERAGE?
Different insurance companies include different levels of coverage in a homeowner’s insurance package, which is why it’s wise to work with a qualified broker who can assess your risks and provide the best options for you.
Most basic homeowner’s policies include water damage coverage for items like appliance malfunctions and plumbing issues. However, sewer back-up and coverage for incidents like flooding are not usually included in the basic policy and need to be added on.
Most policies also don’t cover mold growth due to water seepage, so it’s a good idea to review your policy’s wording with a trained broker. A broker should be able to give you examples of what types of situations will be covered, and where any potential gaps might exist. If you’d like to sit down with a residential insurance broker from Cornerstone Insurance to review your coverage, we’d be happy to walk through your current policy and answer your questions about water damage coverage.
TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR HOME & ENSURE YOUR POLICY COVERS ALL WATER DAMAGE
– Shovel snow away from your home to prevent melting that could leak into your foundation
– Watch for cracks in basement walls, which may indicate a cracked foundation
– Keep eavestroughs and gutters clear of debris
– If you’re going to be away from your home, turn off your main water valve drain the pipes, keep the heat on (to prevent pipes from freezing or bursting), and appoint a neighbour or family member to check on your house regularly
– Install, check on, and maintain your sump pump