Floods are the second most common natural disaster in Canada, occurring five times as often as wildfires. Just a few centimetres of water from flooding can cause costly, irreversible damage to your home.
When it comes to protecting homes from floods, most property owners assume their home insurance policies will provide adequate coverage. This is often not the case, making dedicated and additional protection for specific water damage a must.
What kind of water damage is covered by my basic home insurance policy?
Most standard home insurance policies cover water damage caused by things inside of your home (like a burst pipe), but damage caused by water that enters your home from external sources (during a heavy rainfall, a sewer backup, or a sump pump failure) is likely not covered.
The good news is, you can likely buy additional coverage to protect you in the event of these increasingly common emergencies depending on where you live and your insurance provider. Call your insurance broker to confirm if additional coverage is available on your policy.
What kind of optional add-ons are available?
While optional add-ons are different for every insurance provider and location (including the type and limit of coverage available), here are two of the more common water-related add-ons that you can discuss with your broker:
Sewer backup coverage. Sewer backup coverage is generally set up to protect you from loss or damage to your property when caused by the rupture or escape of water from a sewer, drain, sump pump, or septic system. For an additional premium to your homeowner’s insurance policy, an endorsement for water backup and sump discharge will cover losses caused by the following:
- The backup of water or waterborne materials through a sewer or through a drain
- Water or waterborne material that overflows from a sump, even if the backup of water is due to the mechanical breakdown of the sump pump. Coverage includes damage to covered property but excludes the sump pump and any related equipment that has broken down
The endorsement does not cover losses that involve owner negligence, such as from damage as the result of forgetting to turn on your sump pump, or damages caused by a flood.
The cost of sewer backup coverage is affordable. Call your broker to get more information about coverage costs, limits and deductibles.
Overland water coverage. Generally speaking, overland water coverage is designed to protect you from damage caused by excessive rain, overflowing rivers, spring run-off, and melting snow. It usually excludes damage caused by saltwater, including tidal waves, and tsunamis.
What is Overland Flooding?
Overland flooding is defined as floodwaters that flow from an outside source or body of water onto dry land, causing water damage. The two most likely causes of overland flooding include snowmelt and rainstorms. Overland flood insurance covers flooding from surface water accumulation as well as from bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers or streams.
Understanding what is and what is not considered flooding from an insurance perspective is critical to ensuring you secure the appropriate policies to protect against water damage.
Why Traditional Policies Aren’t Enough
While traditional home insurance policies and tenant policies may offer coverage for water damage from sewer backups or pipe bursts, they commonly exclude losses caused by overland floods.
While newer policies can include some level of flood protection, availability varies. What’s more, even comprehensive homeowners and tenant insurance policies (which often offer the best available protection for homeowners and tenants) don’t automatically provide broad protections for water damage.
Some wrongly assume that sewer backup insurance provides adequate coverage. However, these policies only insure you from non-storm-related backflow from sewers or septic tanks. Sewer backup insurance doesn’t protect you if the backflow results from a sudden flow of external groundwater.
To truly protect your home from floods, you can’t rely on standard home insurance policies or tenant insurance alone. Instead, you should turn to new forms of protection, like overland water endorsements.
Overland Flood Endorsements
Standard home, condo (strata) and tenant policies often exclude overland flood damage coverage. However, because extreme weather events are becoming more frequent, many insurers are now providing policyholders with the option to purchase add-ons (endorsements).
In general, overland flood endorsements provide a level of flood insurance that was previously unavailable. Specifically, the overland flood endorsement can protect against damage resulting from melting snow, excess rain and overflowing riverbeds.
With overland flood insurance, it is important to understand what is and what is not covered. Overland flood insurance covers damage from freshwater sources. This means that any claims related to costal flooding, tsunamis and other saltwater sources are excluded. Dam breaks are also specifically designated as uncovered occurrences.
Overland water endorsements are available to most property owners across Canada. However, a small number of dwellings may not qualify if the risk of flooding is too high in their area. The best way to determine your coverage eligibility is to contact your broker.
In addition to insuring your home, we are committed to helping you and your loved ones stay safe when disaster strikes. If you would like more information on water coverage and all the affordable ways we can help you to protect your home and personal property, please contact Munn Insurance at 855-726-8627 today.