Protecting your home—and your wallet—against water damage

Oct 4, 2012 2 minute read

You’ve seen the coverage of basements flooded after a freak storm. Heard the stories of families who have returned from a winter holiday to burst pipes. Water poses a year-round threat to your house, both inside and out, and that threat is on the rise. Have you done everything you can to protect your home?

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, water is the leading cause of property damage in Canada, accounting for more than half of all insurance claims.

“And with the infrastructure of many municipalities ageing, the climate changing and more basements getting finished, it’s becoming a bigger, costlier concern,” says Liza Burley of BrokerLink.

Every year, water damage costs Canadian insurers and policyholders a whopping $1.3 billion.

Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to reduce the odds of falling victim to a leaky roof, backed-up sewer or spring melt-off.

Take a walk around your home’s exterior, looking for places water can sneak in. The grade should slope away, but has the sidewalk or driveway settled so that water drains toward the house? Examine doors and windows for cracks or openings, and make sure downspouts extend at least six feet from the house.

“It’s all about keeping water out and away,” cautions Liza.

Pay a visit to your roof (or pay a professional to do the honour). If shingles are missing or damaged, replace them. If the roof is at least 15 years old, it may be time to reshingle the whole thing. Also ensure seals around skylights, chimneys and vents are water-tight, and keep eavestroughs clear of leaves and other debris that can clog downspouts.

Inside, all appliances and plumbing should be in good working order. Warning signs include a rusty faucet, a corroded washing machine hose or a stain on the ceiling. If you don’t have them, consider installing a sump pump, backflow valve or water sensor.

“What they cost now could be a drop in the bucket compared to the havoc a flood or backed-up sewer can wreak on a basement,” Liza says.

Prevention is key. Check potential risk areas regularly and perform required maintenance promptly. That pin-sized hole in the shower caulking could lead to structural damage that will cost thousands of dollars—and weeks of upheaval—to fix.

Also key is having a home insurance policy that provides the coverage you need.

As Liza points out, “Not all policies are created equal.” For instance, many don’t automatically cover sewer back-ups, so if it’s a concern, you’ll need to add that protection.

That’s where BrokerLink can help.

“Our brokers are professionals who know insurance inside and out,” says Liza. “We’ll help you find and customize a policy that fits your needs. And we’ll probably save you money while we’re at it.”

To speak to a broker and find out more ways you can protect your home from water damage, visit our Find a Broker page.