Square One Warns of a 191% Increase in Frozen Pipe Home Insurance Claims

January 18, 2024

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – With temperatures across Canada recently plummeting, homeowners need to take extra precautions to prevent their home’s pipes from freezing. When the water inside a pipe freezes, the pressure can cause pipes and fittings to burst.

A burst pipe incident costs, on average, about $16,000 to repair, and the recent weather has caused a major spike in insurance claims — an increase of 191% in the early days of 2024 compared to the beginning of 2023.

“Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen almost three times as many cold-weather-related claims come in compared to the same time last year,” says Wendy McCracken, Claims Manager at Square One. “And the majority of them arose from frozen pipes.”

Subject to two conditions, home insurance usually covers the damage caused by a frozen, burst pipe. The first condition is the water damage occurs due to a sudden and unexpected breakage in a heated part of the home. The second condition applies if the homeowner is away from the home for more than a certain number of days during the usual heating season. In this situation, the homeowner must arrange for someone to check on the home daily to ensure heating is maintained or they must shut-off their main water supply and drain the pipes entirely.

“It’s important to note that there’s no definition of usual heating season because temperatures can fluctuate so greatly across Canada. And, each insurance provider sets the number of days away before the homeowner must take action. For example, policies offered by Square One require homeowners away for more than 7 days,” states McCracken.

Of course, it’s always better to prevent damage in the first place. There are many things a homeowner can do ahead of time to reduce the risk of their pipes freezing.

“Insulate any exposed water lines, and make sure garden hoses are disconnected,” says Vince Singh of Port Coquitlam, BC’s Clearly Plumbing. “Those would be the two big ones.”

Pipe insulation is inexpensive, and available at almost any hardware store. In addition to those basic precautions, there are a few other steps a homeowner can take to prepare for cold snaps:

Once the temperature drops, and especially during severe cold snaps such as the ones Canada has experienced so far in 2024, take a few additional precautions.

“When the temperatures drop, turn the heat up in the house,” says Singh. “You want the heat to radiate throughout the house and keep everything warmer. Once the cold gets in, that’s when it starts attacking the plumbing.”

The temperature inside a house should be at least 16 °C — even at night or when no one’s home. To ensure things stay warm, and that the warmth is distributed throughout the home, keep garage doors closed, and open cabinet doors in kitchens and bathrooms to allow warm air to reach the exposed plumbing.

What’s the best way to monitor whether a home’s pipes are freezing up? Pay attention to the rate of water flow from taps, says Singh. If the flow starts to slow down or stop, the pipes may be beginning to freeze.

“An old-school way of dealing with that is going to a bathtub and running some cold water to stop the pipes from freezing up completely,” says Singh. “Specifically a bathtub, to avoid a flood or an overflow.”

Additionally, if the owner will be away from home, ensure there’s someone checking up on the place regularly. During extended absences, consider shutting off the main water supply and draining the pipes.

“To add to this,” says Singh, “I would recommend homeowners install a leak detection system. So if it does burst, the leak detection system can actually stop or mitigate the flood.”

Visit Square One’s website for more information on frozen pipes and home insurance, preparing your home for winter, and preparing for heavy snowfall.

Media contact

Aneel Mattu
Director, Marketing
Square One Insurance Services
1.855.331.6933 ext 127
778.919.2096 (M)

Established in 2011, Square One is an online home and car insurance provider. Square One offers home insurance in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. It offers auto insurance in Ontario, with availability in more provinces to follow. Square One focuses on providing customers with affordable home and car insurance that they can customize to their individual needs. For more information, visit squareone.ca.