Is insurance available for water damage?

Reviewed by Rena Novotny

In Canada, we’ve learned to take the weather as it comes. It’s impossible to accurately predict what’s going to happen next – but when rain hits, it sometimes hits much harder than expected.

Rainstorms are continuing to increase in frequency and severity, causing damage to homes and personal property; this leads to claims for water that enters homes during a sudden downpour, often due to backups from drainage systems and eavestroughs.

Water flooding into a home

How does Square One cover water damage?

While the weather can be a significant cause of damage, storms are not the only cause of water damage; inside sources including toilet overflows, pipe bursts and appliance failures are a leading cause of loss to Canadian homes. In fact, water damage is now the #1 cause of losses to homes and personal property in Canada – causing more damage than fire and crime combined. Homeowners, condo owners and renters are all exposed to the possibility of water damage, so it’s important to prepare for the unexpected by purchasing a comprehensive home insurance policy that includes coverage for water damage.

At Square One, we provide some of the broadest water protection available in Canada, in all of our policies. Instead of leaving out coverage for water escape and sewer backup, we build this into every Canadian policy that we sell. We even go a step further, by providing inland flood coverage; 94% of Canadian customers qualify for inland flood protection. When you purchase insurance from Square One, you can rest assured that common causes of water damage are already included in your policy.

How can I protect my home against water damage?

Water damage can very quickly become a serious problem, requiring time to repair and often causing significant disruption to your life in the process. While insurance is available for water damage, you can save yourself the potential disruption and hassle of water damage repairs by taking steps to address a number of the most common causes of water damage:

  • Keep your outdoor eaves troughs (roof gutters) and drainage systems clean and clear of leaves, debris and animal nests. Even partial blockages can cause water to quickly accumulate and back up into your home during heavy rainfall, causing significant damage in a very short period of time.

  • Direct downspouts 10’ away from your home, and slope your yard away from the foundation. Heavy rainfall relies upon an easy pathway for water to flow away from your home. Without proper downspouts and slope, water can accumulate and begin to enter your home’s lower levels in a short period of time.

  • If necessary, install a sump pump. Some homes will need extra active protection from ground and surface water infiltration; in these cases, sump pumps are an additional line of defense against water damage. Make sure your sump pump has a battery or generator backup to keep it running in the event of a power interruption, and test it at least once every year to ensure it remains in working order.

  • Install a sewer backflow preventer on your home’s sewer line. Homes often suffer water backup damage as a result of aging municipal infrastructure; as you can imagine, water backups cause serious contamination and are very unpleasant to deal with. A sewer backflow preventer valve is a device that automatically closes your home’s sewer line if water begins to flow the wrong way, protecting your home from damage.

  • Whenever possible, use braided steel hoses to connect your appliances to your home’s water supply. Standard rubber hoses deteriorate over time, eventually bursting and causing severe damage. For example, an average washing machine supply line will release 650 gallons of water per hour; if your washing machine hose were to burst while you’re away for one hour, you would get home to the equivalent of 8 bathtubs of water saturating and destroying your walls, flooring, ceilings and personal items.

  • Be extremely careful when supplying fridges with water. The narrow plastic water lines commonly used to supply fridges are fragile and renowned for failure, often within only a few years of installation. Fridge line breaks are a frequent cause of water damage claims to home insurance providers.

  • Check your windows and doors for worn seals, and maintain and re-caulk them as needed. Doors and windows are a core element of your home’s protection against wind-driven rain; old, dried and cracked seals or caulking can allow this water to infiltrate your home, causing damage.

  • Seal cracks in your foundation walls and basement floor. Most home insurance policies still exclude water damage caused by ground water infiltration through your foundation walls and basement floor. In the event of a heavy rainfall, groundwater levels can rise quickly and create pressure on your basement, eventually allowing water to enter your home through cracks and fissures.

  • During the heating season, shut off and drain all plumbing lines that pass through an unheated portion of your dwelling, and all lines that deliver water to the outside. Many home insurance policies exclude losses resulting from freezing that occurs during the heating season, so it’s important that you shut off these lines in order to prevent damage.

  • Find the location of your home’s main shutoff valve. If a pipe or fixture in your house begins to unleash a flood, every second will count. Knowing where your home’s shutoff valve is will allow you to quickly limit the amount of damage that your home suffers, which will help you to recover from the loss in a shorter period of time.

Water can cause significant, stressful damage to your home; fortunately, you can protect yourself by combining a strong, comprehensive home insurance policy with reasonable measures to prevent water damage.

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