Date Published: 2023/04/10

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Water and flooding: What is covered?

A man stands with a pot, catching water that is pouring from his kitchen ceiling. In the background, his partner is speaking on the phone, with a toddler on her hip.

Stories of catastrophic floods are becoming all too common. Every year, thousands of Canadians are impacted by water. Whether it is rising water levels during the spring runoff, deteriorating municipal infrastructure, or damaging weather events. Then there is the damage that occurs if there is a sewer back up. Many homeowners may not know how water damage and flooding are defined and what is, or is not, covered in their insurance policy. 

When a storm hits

Wind, hail and rain can cause a massive amount of damage. From ripping off shingles to flying debris breaking windows and falling limbs flattening cars. When that damage creates openings in the dwelling, any water damage is usually covered under the home’s insurance policy and no extra coverage or endorsement is needed.

On the other hand, coverage for overland flooding, which happens when a waterway overflows onto normally dry land, depends on your specific policy. Coverage for this type of risk is not automatically included in homeowner policies but is instead offered as optional coverage that is sometimes combined with sewer back up insurance.

Some homeowners may pass on this coverage to save money, while others may not even know if they have overland water protection. It is important coverage even if you do not live close to a body of water. As we have seen far too many times, a flood can affect entire communities, impacting homes that are situated far from the water source. A word of caution: overland water protection may not be available if your home is located on a floodplain. 

Sewer backup. The name is exactly what it is, and the results of it, are nothing short of gross. This can happen if a sudden downpour overwhelms the sewer and storm water systems and sewage backs up into your basement. For this damage to be covered, you must have sewer back up insurance, which is not automatically covered in your homeowner’s policy. Some insurance companies provide discounts if you have a sump pump as this is a great way to mitigate potential damage.

Another source of water damage can come from a burst pipe, leaking toilet or appliance. While these cases are often protected by home insurance policies, pipe bursts caused by freezing may not be covered. There are a lot of water sensors available at various price points. The very basic ones sound an alarm should they become wet, the more modern ones can be installed on pipes and shut your water off if a leak is detected. Depending on the device you choose, you may be eligible for a discount on your insurance.

Protecting your home against flooding

With the growth of significant storms and the increased risk of flooding, it is best to take steps to prepare and protect your home.

  • Your basement is the most vulnerable area for flooding. Do not store valuables or important documents in the basement, or make sure they are stored in watertight containers. 
  • Protect the sewage system by keeping fats, oils and grease out of drains. These can be disposed of in your kitchen compost.
  • Add a backwater valve to your sewer system to stop the sewage before it enters your house.
  • Avoid using water during sudden or heavy downpours as it may add to the overwhelmed sewer system.
  • Check the landscape grading of your property to redirect water away from your house.
  • Shovel snow away from the foundation.
  • Ensure your eavestroughs and downspouts are kept clear.
  • Add downspout extensions to keep water far from your foundation.

Let your Orbit insurance broker help you understand what coverage you have and how you can ensure you have the right water coverage for your home. Call 877-976-7248 today with your questions or to get a quote.