Between late spring and early summer, the wet season is at its worst. Did you know that, in Ontario, the highest amount of money paid out to home insurance policyholders is for water damage? Moreover, too few Ontarians actually realize they don’t have flood insurance, or that sewer back-up and overland flooding coverage is optional, leaving homeowners unsure and underinsured.
Suffice to say, water damage can cause significant financial loss if not prevented or stopped in time. Whether it comes from a leaky appliance or from water entering the home from a nearby larger body, water can wreak havoc on a home. However, there are some ways to minimize the risk of damage – and some to prevent issues altogether. Excalibur Insurance is here to lay out for you how best to prepare your home for the wet season. Read on for some tips.
Before It Rains: Water Damage Prevention Tips
The best way to reduce your risk of water damage is to prevent it before a storm occurs. When a storm does hit, you’ll want your home to be in the best position possible to stay dry. Consider the following:
Point your downspouts away from the home.
When it rains, you’ll want water to drain away from your home. Your downspouts will direct water to a safer location to drain. If need be, consider extending your downspouts so that they are at least two metres away from the foundation of your home. If they drain directly into the municipality storm system, disconnect them. Often, municipalities will require this anyway because it can overload the storm system and heighten your risk of sewer backup.
Inspect the grading of your lot.
The foundation of your home is where all the water from a storm may try to settle and oversaturate the soil. This will then leak through any entryway into your basement, causing water damage. If you notice that water is running towards your home rather than away, hire a professional to address the grading of your lot. You may wish to fill in any spots with additional soil or landscape your yard with vegetation that help to minimize soil erosion.
Do repairs or hire a professional.
Notice any cracking or degradation around your entryways? Seams or cracks in your foundation? Your roof is also a common place for water to leak through. Missing or damaged shingles should be repaired. If the caulking around your windows is starting to deteriorate, consider resealing or hiring a professional to do this all for you.
Prep your basement.
Because your basement is one of the more common locations for water to enter, be sure to do some prep-work before a storm. Any time you do a renovation, be sure to use water-resistant materials. Make sure your major appliances, such as your hot water tank, laundry machine, and furnace are all off the ground and keep the floor clear of any obstructions. If you keep high-value items down here, put them in bags and/or bins and store them on shelves. Install covers for your basement window wells so these do not accumulate with water.
Do some tests.
If you have a sump pump, test it out a couple of times a year to ensure it’s still operational. If you don’t have one, ensure you have a battery-powered back-up in the event there’s a power outage. You may want to use a backwater valve to prevent sewer back-up as well. When a storm does occur, avoid your home water use – or minimize it as much as possible.
Keep drains and eavestroughs free of clutter.
Blockage can result in the accumulation of water, which very well can lead to issue later down the line. Ensure that any storm drains near your home are clear of debris and leaves. Check and clear out your eavestroughs regularly. Also, avoid pouring any oils, grease, or fats down your drain because these can stick to your pipes and cause blockage.
What insurance do you need to protect against water damage?
There’s a few types of home insurance coverage that will protect against different types of water damage. Many Canadians seem to think that flood insurance is included with their standard home insurance, but it isn’t. Consider: if your dishwasher should malfunction unexpectedly and leak, that may be covered under your standard home insurance. If water entered your home due to flooding from a nearby large body of water, this is unlikely to be covered without an endorsement.
You may have the option of purchasing two optional flooding or weather-related coverages. Those are:
Sewer back-up insurance
This is optional to include with your home insurance policy and protects you from the cost of damages for repairs, restoration, and clean-up if there is sewer-backup.
This is a recent availability and, like sewer-backup, is optional. This coverage includes protection for the cost of damages due to water damage that is caused by a body of water overflowing, whether due to spring melt or heavy rainwater. With some policies, it can cover surface water due to heavy rainfall. Coverage options will vary from provider to provider.
Insurance can be confusing. Here at Excalibur Insurance, we understand if you’re uncertain. Give us a call to discuss your existing coverage and coverage options for water damage. We can also give you some tips on how to protect your home against the risk of water damage – some of which may even qualify you for a home insurance discount.