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Water Woes?

There's Never Been a Better Time to Talk to Your Broker

Did you know that water is the leading cause of property damage across Canada?  Water damage can be both expensive and difficult for property owners to recover from.  In fact, most people don’t fully understand the extent water damage can cause to their homes until it’s too late.  It’s at this point many homeowners are surprised to learn that not all policies are created equal and that not all damage is covered in all cases. With so many different types of policies available it’s always best to speak with your insurance broker to make sure you’re protected.

As the Atlantic region is left to deal with the aftermath of one of our worst winters on record homeowners should be taking precautions to minimize damage due to melting snow and the excessive rain we have experienced. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) weather events have increased over the last number of decades and are happening with greater frequency and intensity.    It’s time for homeowners and renters in Nova Scotia to take a proactive role in preparing for severe weather events and to learn what to do in a water emergency.

Preventative Measures

This can begin as early as building or purchasing a home. 

  • Learn about the area, and if flooding has taken place there in the past.
  • Be careful about building on a flood plain or too close to natural waterways that could potentially flood.
  • When landscaping be conscious of grades and direct water away from your foundation and entry points.  Also consider planting trees and shrubs that will help absorb water (water gardens) instead of installing all hard surfaces.
  • Speak with a qualified contractor and investigate building methods and equipment that will help minimize or eliminate future damage such as back water valves, sump pumps, proper insulation and weeping tile.
  • Elevate furnaces, hot water heaters and electrical panels in the basement or relocate them if possible.
  • Take before and after photos of work to your home and keep an inventory of possessions in case you need to make a future claim.  Store valuables away from high risk areas in your home or off the floor on shelves whenever possible.
  • Make sure you have the necessary equipment to maintain your home year round such as ladders, shovels, salt/sand, roof rakes or snow blowers etc...
  • If you are planning to be away from your home be sure to have someone check your property.  Many insurance policies stipulate the frequency of visits required.

Regular and Seasonal Home Maintenance

In some cases damage can be avoided through simple home maintenance.

  • Inspect your roof for loose or missing shingles and replace as necessary.  Check around chimneys and skylights for water entry points and repair as needed.
  • Clean out gutters to prevent blockages that could drive water into your home.
  • Check your foundation for cracks and ensure water is draining away from your home.
  • Ensure your window wells are free of debris by removing any accumulated garbage or leaves.
  • Be aware of the placement of street catch basins and remove ice and snow that could result in water channelling towards your home. In rural areas make sure culverts and ditches aren’t blocked and that water can flow freely.
  • Remove dead trees and large branches next to your home that could cause damage during a storm.
  • When shovelling snow try to clear it away from your homes foundation and off your roof and deck.
  • Seal any leaks around windows and doors that could allow water to enter.

Tips for When Water Happens

  • If the water is from a freshwater source try to move as many items as possible to a safe area. If the water is due to your septic system avoid contact and call in a professional.
  • Call your insurance broker and/or company. Most insurers have 24-hour claims service. Remember to provide as much detail as possible.
  • List all damaged or destroyed items. Try to provide receipts and warranties for items that were damage. Take photos of damage incurred and keep damaged items, unless they pose a health hazard.
  • Keep all receipts related to cleanup and living expenses if you’ve been displaced. Ask your insurance representative about what expenses you’re entitled to and for what period of time.

Remember, your best insurance is an insurance broker.  They can help you navigate the many and sometimes confusing options available to ensure you are protected.

**There is no national flood program in Canada.  Many homeowners are not aware that most insurance companies do not cover overland flooding (water from rivers, streams and other water bodies that flow onto dry land and into homes).

To learn more or view our homeowner safety brochures click here.

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