Water Damage and your Home

By Jane Mooy, SRES

Sales Representative, Seniors Real Estate Specialist

As many of you already know Calgary and Toronto have seen more than their fair share of flooding.  As a result most homeowners are left asking themselves what water damage coverage or exclusions are found in their existing home insurance policies.   Water damage represents approximately 40% of all eligible home insurance claims.  While most home insurance policies cover water damage, there are two significant situations excluded in a standard policy, those being flood and seepage. flooded basement photograph

A flood, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada*, is defined as water flowing over land and entering your home through windows, doors and cracks. This is surface water on what would otherwise be dry land. The source of which could be a lake or river, melting snow, even a backyard swimming pool.  The reason insurers don’t cover floods is because they cannot sell this protection at an affordable price. The cost of flood damage is often very significant.  Only a small percentage of the population live on a flood plain and the premium needed to cover water damage claims would render it unaffordable to those who need it.

Seepage is defined as water that enters through cracks, pores or gaps.  Unlike floods, seepage can affect any home.  Examples of this would include water penetrating foundation walls, cracked pipes, improperly sealed bathtubs or showers, and missing or worn roof shingles or flashing.  Home insurance is meant to help policy holder’s deal with the financial impact of unpredictable events that are sudden and accidental.  Although water damage from seepage may appear sudden and accidental to some homeowners, most insurers take the view that seepage is avoidable through normal home maintenance.

Remember, that whatever the water damage incurred in your home whether it be flood or seepage it must be disclosed when selling your home. Despite the fact it may have been repaired, if the damage isn’t disclosed you could find yourself responsible for the cost of repairing the problem even after the house has sold.

Here are a few ways you can help avoid costly water damage to your home:

Inside:

  • -If you live in a home that was built before 1950, make sure you don’t have any galvanized pipes. The life span of this plumbing is estimated at 50 – 70 years.  It is prone to internal corrosion that eventually leads to leaks and bursting not to mention increased lead in your drinking water.
  • Make sure your bathroom tub and shower grouting is in good order. Even small cracks can allow water to penetrate the walls leading to rot and mold.
  • If you have a sump pump be sure to test it annually.
  • Install a backwater valve. This one-way valve will prevent water from the city sewer from backing up into your home if the system becomes flooded or plugged.
  • If you have small amounts of water in your basement after a rainstorm, it’s an indication that you have foundation cracks that need repair or that your weeping tiles (your foundations draining system) need to be replaced.
  • If you are on vacation, turn the water off to appliances like your washing machine, dishwasher and refrigerator ice maker.
  • Replace the rubber water hoses supplied with most washing machines with steel banded hoses that cannot burst.

Outside:

  • Keep melting snow way from the outside of your foundation
  • Make sure that the ground slopes away from your home to prevent water from pooling next to your foundation.
  • Keep your roof gutters clean of leaves and debris and make sure the water drains away from your home.
  • Inspect your roof for worn or missing shingles and unsealed or bent metal flashing.
  • Most importantly never buy or build on a flood plain even if there has never been a flood recorded in the area. If it can flood, it eventually will.

*policy holders should check their coverage with their insurer or go to www.ibc.ca for more information

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