Your Home Insurance In The Spring


With spring finally here, it's a great time for homeowners to review their insurance policies and make sure that they're covered against the type of damage that comes with the change in weather.

During the spring, floods and the resulting water damage can be caused by the combination of snow melt and heavy rains that come with this time of year. If you're not prepared, water damage can do permanent structural damage to your home. According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation estimates, there are between 30,000 and 40,000 incidents each year involving water damage in basements significant enough to warrant an insurance claim, with a total cost of approximately $140 million.

Basement flooding is a serious concern, for a number of reasons. If your basement floods regularly, it can result in long term damage to the building and even reduce your property value. People who suffer from respiratory ailments often have more difficulty in chronically damp homes. And repeated insurance claims for basement flooding can increase your premiums and minimum deductibles. It's important to remember that not all of this damage is covered by home insurance. Damage caused by a flood is generally not covered unless you have flood insurance. Some other forms of water damage are covered, however, and we'll talk about that in more detail later in this article.

Prepare your home for Spring

The best defence against the flooding that can come in the spring months is to prepare your home ahead of time. Not all water damage is preventable, but regular maintenance can protect you against many of the common causes of damage.

Here are some ways you can protect your belongings from water damage during the spring thaw:

  • Make sure your roof is in good condition.
  • Don't store valuable items in the basement.
  • Make sure that your floor drains are in good working order.
  • Check the grading around your home.
  • Consider installing a sump pump and/or sewer backflow valve.
  • Keep your window wells and eaves troughs clear of debris.
  • Check your foundation for cracks.Keeping your home protected against water damage is no different than keeping your car running smoothly. It needs regular maintenance and occasionally significant upgrades and renovations.

    What does my policy cover?

    As mentioned, home insurance does not protect you against financial costs related to water damage in all cases. Home insurance policies differ among companies and there are varying types of insurance you can choose, so it's important that you talk to your agent or broker to ensure that you know the details of your individual policy.

    To give you a general idea, here are some instances of water damage and the resulting insurance consequences.

  • Floods. Flooding is not covered by home insurance in Canada. This includes any type of overland flooding as well as water that enters your home through seepage or leaks, including water from your home swimming pool.

  • Sewer Backup. Sewer backup is covered by most policies, though in some cases you may need to specifically ask to have it added to your homeowner's policy.

  • Indoor appliances. Water damage that's caused by the malfunction of indoor appliances in your home such as washing machines, dishwashers or water beds is usually covered, although the cost to repair the appliance that caused the problem usually is not covered.

  • Indoor plumbing, heating and air conditioning. Flooding caused by indoor plumbing, heating or air conditioning emergencies is usually covered, though again the cost of repairing the original problem is not.

  • Leaking Roof. If your home suffers water damage due to a leaky roof, the damage to the roof itself is not covered as this is usually deemed to be a home maintenance issue. However, damage to the contents of your home caused by the water leak is usually covered by home insurance.

    As always, it's best to speak to your insurance agent or broker if you have any questions regarding your homeowner's insurance policy. Policies may vary considerably and it makes sense to know in advance what perils you're protected against before they happen. The more knowledge you have, the better you can protect yourself and your home against the financial loss that comes with water damage this spring.