Prevent Water Damage Before It Happens

According to a study by Aviva Canada Inc., the average cost of a water damage claim in Canada has risen from $7,192 to more than $15,500 over a 10 year period 1. The study further finds that approximately 40% of all home insurance claims are due to water damage.

With the arrival of spring comes the inevitable transition of cold to wet weather, meaning the potential for water damage losses can be at its highest during this time of year. This month’s edition of The Hull Group News offers some tips to prepare for and prevent water damage, as well as what to do in the event of a loss.

Being Prepared

  • Do some research. Is your neighbourhood prone to flooding or sewer backup? Talk to neighbours who have lived in the area for a while to see if they have experienced issues with drains, sewers, or sump systems.
  • Maintain a detailed and up to date home inventory. The benefits of this are twofold; not only will you have an accurate idea of how much insurance you should carry, but this will also make your life easier in the event that you need to submit a claim to your insurer by having necessary information already on hand. The Insurance Bureau of Canada has a helpful form for compiling a detailed home inventory.
  • Familiarize yourself with your insurance policy. Often times, policyholders don’t know exactly what they have coverage for until it comes time to make a claim. For example, sudden and accidental bursting of pipes or appliances resulting in water damage is covered by most property insurance policies, however some policies exclude resulting damage when the water escape is caused by freezing. Different options for sewer backup (i.e. water damage from the backup of drains, sump and sewer systems) coverage are typically offered as an add-ons to standard property policies. It is important to check with your broker to see if these coverages have been included on your policy.

Being Preventative

  • Install a sump pump. This prevents ground water from entering your basement. Many insurers offer discounts for clients who install sump pumps, and your municipality may offer plumbing inspection services or a subsidy for installing a sump pump or backwater valve.
  • Check for common sources of water damage. Downspouts and eaves troughs should be checked every spring and fall season to make sure they are not blocked. Keep toilets and drains free of grease and other objects than can cause blockage. Also, the age and type of pipes in your home or business can be more prone to damage or blockage; older clay pipes can be more susceptible to this, so consider replacing with more modern PVC or ABS pipes.
  • Install an inline backwater valve. This can help prevent sewer backup if installed properly by a licensed plumber. However, it is important to check with your municipality to see if local bylaws permit this.

Know how to Respond in the Event of a Loss

  • Keep calm and call your broker or insurance company right away. Most insurers have 24 hour claims lines.
  • Move any undamaged or slightly damage property away from the wet area to prevent further damage. After separating undamaged and damaged property, prepare an inventory of what has been damaged or lost. Take photos to document, and if possible, gather any receipts or proofs of purchase.
  • DO NOT touch any electrical wires, devices or appliances.
  • DO NOT turn on any taps or flush any toilets if water damage is a result of sewer backup. This will only cause further damage.
  • Keep receipts of any clean up expenses or costs incurred to prevent further damage. Most insurers will reimburse their clients for any reasonable costs incurred to mitigate a loss.

Spring can be a season of beauty; don’t let water damage rear its ugly head. Be prepared, preventative, and ready to respond to whatever the change of seasons brings your way.

[1] Canadian Underwriter, “40% of all home insurance claims are due to water damage, insurer says” (2013), available at