After a wet fall and snowy winter, experts are forecasting a
high probability for spring flooding in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
That being the case, homeowners should take note that overland
flooding is generally not covered by insurance and it is important
for homeowners to take measures to protect their belongings from
In Canada, overland flooding is not usually considered an
insurable risk. The reason is simple -- insurers believe that most
areas prone to flooding will eventually succumb. Manitoba is taking
preventive measures to address flood concerns, but these measures
cannot eliminate the risk of flooding. Moreover, this type of
insurance would only be of interest to a relatively small
population of people living in areas prone to flooding, thereby
defeating the basic principle of insurance that the premiums of
many people pay for the losses of a few.
Of equal, if not more, concern is sewer backup damage, for which
insurance coverage may be available as an add-on endorsement to a
homeowner's policy. In fact, the Institute for Catastrophic
Loss Reduction (ICLR) has noted that the insurance industry's
biggest source of claims is sewer backups.
A 2002 ICLR study on basement flooding found that the main
reason for the high cost of basement flooding claims was due to the
presence of expensive items in basements, like televisions,
computers and entertainment centres. Homeowners should ensure that
anything of value in their basement is out of reach of any
potential leaks or water damage. Installing sump pumps and sewer
backflow valves is a smart, proactive way to reduce the risk of
water damage in the basement, and it may be a requirement of
coverage under your homeowner's insurance policy. More
importantly, homeowners should take the appropriate steps to
The City of Winnipeg recently approved a sump pump subsidy to
help homeowners buy and install sump pits and backwater valves. The
subsidy will cover 60 per cent of the invoiced cost, including
labour, up to a maximum of $3,000 for installing both an in-line
backwater valve and a sump pit drainage system.
It is important to check your homeowner's policy to
determine exactly what kinds of flooding, if any, are covered by
your insurance company and to increase your coverage if
appropriate. An important consideration is whether your property
has suffered flooding in the past. If so, your insurance company
may refuse to issue flood coverage or may require the installation
of the aforementioned protection systems before continuing to
provide flood coverage.
In light of the current conditions, homeowners need to start
thinking about the spring thaw and taking the appropriate steps to
protect their properties against a potential flood. Overland
flooding is generally not covered by home insurance, so homeowners
are urged to take preventive action now. Sewer backup flooding may
be covered by insurance, but it is an optional coverage so
homeowners are advised to review their homeowner's policy and
consult their insurance broker or their lawyer for
Five tips to help prevent water
Move valuable items from the basement to upper floors
Make sure floor drains are always free of obstructions
Install a sump pump; if you already have one make sure it's
in working order
Install a sewer backflow valve to prevent water from entering
Check the grading around your home and address any concerns
(ie: ground sloping towards the house).
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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