Weather patterns are changing worldwide, and this trend is affecting Canadians directly. Over the last decade, water and flooding have become the most common insurance claim, with floods occurring five times as often as wildfires.

When it comes to protecting your home from water damage, most property owners assume their personal property insurance policies will provide adequate coverage.  This is often not the case. This article will discuss the sources for water damage and the potential claims you should be aware of, as well as optional coverages that maybe available to protect your property.

What Type of Water Damage is Covered by My Homeowner’s Insurance?

Most homeowner, tenants, or condo insurance will cover many water damage claims that are sudden or accidental. For example, if a washing machine hose ruptures unexpectedly, the resulting damages is normally covered in most personal property insurance policies under the standard insured perils. Other types of damage that basic insurance may cover include:

  • Damage from heavy snow or ice buildup
  • Damage from steam or a hot water heating system
  • Freezing of plumbing and pipes

Although these types of damages are covered normally covered under the standard insured perils, care should be taken to review your policy carefully as coverages vary from policy to policy, and insurer to insurer.

Some insurance providers offer additional options to cover certain types of water damage – sewer backup, overland water coverage, and water service lines coverage. These additional coverage options are explained below.

Types of Water Coverage

Sewer Backup Coverage

Sewer backup related water damage claims are on the rise in Canada. Severe weather, large rainfalls and sudden downpours are putting extreme stress on our sewage systems, causing them to back up into the home. Sewer backup coverage protects from sudden and accidental backup or escape of water or sewage from within the home through a sewer, septic system or sump pump.

Areas that are prone to flooding, heavy rainfall, extreme snowmelt are very likely to need sewer backup coverage. Without it, the cost of repairs for a sewer backup could reach into the tens of thousands.

Overland Water Coverage

Water damage is not always the result of sewer backups. Overland flooding occurs whenever the rising water enters your property through openings in your buildings such as doors, and windows.  The occurrence could be a result of heavy rain, spring runoff due to melting snow and ice, or overflow from nearby bodies of water such as a river or stream.

This coverage enhances the scope of water protection in your policy along with Sewer backup coverage. Together both coverages can provide the broadest scope of water protection available at this time.

The definition of overland water coverage, as well as the name, varies from company to company. Be sure to review your policy and check with your broker to see what coverage is available for you in your area.

Water Service Lines Coverage

As your home gets older, so does do the water servicing lines that provide water to your property as well as remove waste water from your property.  Leaks and breaks are usually associated with aging of the pipes, corrosion, extreme temperatures, settling or shifting of the ground.  If the lines fail, repair or replacement can be expensive, and this peril is not normally within the scope of the insured perils within a standard personal property policy. Water Service Line coverage can provide a specific limit of insurance for costs related to your property including:

  • Locating blockages in the pipes
  • Costs to expose the damaged pipes
  • Pipe replacement and repair
  • Unblocking sewer lines
  • Backfilling of areas disturbed by repairs

Some insurance companies do not offer Water Service Line coverage, or the definition may vary so be sure to check with your broker to make sure you are covered.

Understanding Types of Water Claims

Insurance claims resulting from water can be challenging, as water will always try to find a way inside. Exactly how water enters your home can determine whether or not coverage is available.

Above Water

  • Ice Damming
  • Water entering the home due to damage caused by wind

Ask your broker about your Insured Perils and the specifics of your policy.

Inside Water

  • Burst Pipe
  • Hot water tank bursts
  • Dishwasher line breaks
  • Clothes washer line lets go

Ask your broker about your Insured Perils and the specifics of your policy.

Outside Water

  • Water on the surface of the ground, preparing to enter the home

Ask your broker regarding Overland Water coverage, it may be purchased as an add-on to your existing policy.

Below Water

  • Sewer Backup
  • Sump pump failure

Ask your broker regarding Sewer Backup coverage, it may be purchased as an add-on to your existing policy.

Water Service Line

  • Line or pipe carrying fresh water from public water supply
  • Line or pipe carrying waste water away from dwelling

Ask your broker regarding Water Service Line coverage; it may be purchased as an add-on to your existing policy.

If your property suffers water damage, it is important to understand the type of water causing damage so that your insurance provider and can determine if you are covered or not.

Talk to Your Insurance Broker to Learn More

Water damage and coverages can be confusing, so make sure you understand if and how you are covered. In general, coverage is available for owners or tenants of houses, condos, rental properties, seasonal properties or secondary properties. This makes it incredibly flexible, helping individuals secure the right protection.

Be prepared for all emergencies with the help of our Emergency Preparedness Guide.

Even one inch of water could cost you thousands of dollars. The best way for you to find out what you are and aren’t covered for is by talking to your insurance provider before a claim occurs. Your broker can tell you what your coverage includes and if you should be investing in additional coverage options. Learn more about homeowner’s insurance and the coverage options available, contact Algoma Insurance today.

Sources: Insurance Bureau of CanadaInsured Perils” (2019), Zywave Inc., Benefits of Overland Flood Insurance (2018), Home Matters – Protect Your Home from Snowmelt (2018).

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