Overland flood insurance defined
Like sewer backup coverage, overland water protection is a type of flood insurance that can be added to property insurance policies in Canada. Specifically, overland water coverage protects your home from flooding or water damage that is caused by fresh water that flows above ground. Examples of this type of water include:
- The overflow of any body of fresh water, such as a lake or river
- Heavy precipitation, such as rain or melting snow or ice
Please note that for overland water coverage to come into play, the freshwater must have entered your home via the windows, doors, foundation, or other ground-level sources. Overland water does not cover water that seeps through the roof or upper windows.
What is covered by overland water protection
Overland water coverage protects against a variety of flood-related losses. Specific losses this type of home insurance coverage may cover you for include:
- Rain accumulating and entering your home through basement windows or a crack in the foundation above a basement wall
- Rain accumulation and entering your home through the garage door
- A sewer backup that is caused by heavy rain or surface water that enters your home along with wastewater (this would be covered through sewer backup coverage)
- Sewer backup that is caused by the overflow of a body of fresh water
What is not covered by overland water protection
Overland water protection does not cover everything. There are several circumstances it does not protect against, and they include:
- Long-term or long-lasting seepage and leakage
- Rain or snow that enters your home via an open window or door
- Your roof leaking due to general wear and tear (wear and tear is never covered, insurance covers sudden and accidental incidents)
- Salt water or coastal flood, e.g. flooding from oceans
Please note that not all homes in Canada are eligible for overland water protection. If you live in an area at high risk of flooding, this type of coverage may not be available to you.
The cost of flood insurance
By now you may be wondering how much flood insurance costs. Ultimately, the cost of adding overland water protection to your home insurance policy varies between policyholders, as it will depend on the amount of risk you face. An insurance company will assess how at-risk your home is of flooding based on where you live. If you live in a low-risk part of the country, you may be able to add flood insurance at no extra cost, especially if you already have sewer backup coverage as part of your policy. If you do not have sewer backup coverage in your policy or you live in a high-risk area for floods, adding this type of coverage to your property insurance plan may cost you an additional premium per month. However, if your basement is waterproofed or you have a water security feature on the property, such as a sump pump, you may be eligible for a discount. Sump pumps, as well as sewer backup detection devices can help reduce the odds of water damage in your home. Contact BrokerLink to learn more about sewer backup prevention in your home.
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Signs that your home is at risk of flooding
Given the catastrophic impact a flood can have on your home, it is important to know the signs that your property is at risk of flooding. Similar to the signs of water damage in walls and ceilings, the BrokerLink team has put together a list of telltale signs that a flood could break out in your home:
Water pooling around the foundation of your home
The first telltale sign that your home is at risk of flooding is if you notice water pooling on the ground near the foundation of your home. There are many causes of pooling water, including but not limited to downspouts misdirecting water, gutters overflowing, outdoor faucets leaking, and more. When standing water is near your home’s foundation, it is far more likely to find its way into your home. To avoid this reality, make sure to clean your gutters regularly and reposition your downspouts as necessary. You can learn more about preventing spring flooding in your basement by contacting BrokerLink today.
Sloped ground near your home
If the ground around the perimeter of your home is flat or sloping towards it, this means that any water that falls from the roof or sky will run toward your home rather than the opposite. This can spell trouble, causing falling water to seep into your home’s foundation and flood it. Thus, ensuring that the ground around your home slopes away from it on all sides is crucial. Be sure to keep an eye on the perimeter of your home, including any sidewalks or driveways, as they are known to flatten over time, which could increase your risk of a flood.
Downward sloped driveways
Some neighbourhoods in Canada feature homes with driveways that slope downward. The idea behind this is so that vehicles can be parked in a garage that is below the main floor. While these types of properties should have catch basins to funnel any falling water into the storm sewer, it’s possible for them to become overloaded during periods of heavy precipitation. In turn, this can cause the excess water to flow into the basement of your home. To prevent this from happening, make sure that the catch basin(s) on your property are not blocked. Clear any debris that may be blocking them ahead of a rain storm.
Cracks in the foundation or basement walls of your home
If you have started to notice cracks in the foundation of your home or in the basement walls, this could be a sign that your home is at risk of flooding. It is all too common for water to flow into people’s homes via cracks in the wall or foundation. Therefore, as soon as you notice any cracks, make sure to seal them as quickly as possible. This can be done using caulk or a sealant.
Frequent plumbing issues
If plumbing issues have recently become more regular in your home, it could be a sign of flooding in your home. The more plumbing issues you encounter, the higher the odds that some water will end up in your basement. For example, if a pipe connected to your main water supply becomes blocked, water could end up flowing through your basement drains and into your home. If you suspect a plumbing issue, contact a professional plumber right away.
Tips to prevent water damage in your home
Protecting your home from water damage is of the utmost importance, especially if you want to avoid basement flooding and other serious forms of property damage. To help prevent water damage in your home, the BrokerLink team has come up with the following list of tips:
Check the ground around your home
As mentioned above, one of the telltale signs of water damage is when the ground is flat or sloped towards your home rather than away from it. If the earth around the base of your home is flat or downward sloped, water is far more likely to pool following a period of rain or snow. If you notice that the slope of the ground around your home has changed significantly, consider contacting a professional and hiring them for a consultation. Another precaution you can take is shovelling snow away from the base of your home right after it falls.
Regularly inspect your roof
Since the roof is one of the most common places that water can enter your home, it’s important to have it inspected regularly. Hire a professional to do this for you, or if it is safe to do so, inspect it yourself. Take care to inspect your roof before and after the winter, especially since winter weather like snow and ice can cause serious damage. There’s a reason that springtime is when homes are most susceptible to flooding. If you want to avoid snow and ice melt making its way into your home, make sure your roof is in tip-top shape year-round.
Assess for cracks and leaks in your home
If you notice signs of water damage, it could be too late. That is why proactively assessing your home for cracks and leaks is so important. Take a walk through your home every two to three months and keep an eye out for even the smallest of cracks. Pay special attention to basement walls, the walls adjacent to your garage, and areas of your home that are connected to water sources, like the walls near sinks, toilets, and appliances.
Create a home inventory list
Creating a home inventory checklist is a great tip. While it may not prevent water damage in your home, it can make dealing with the aftermath easier. If you have a home inventory list to refer back to you after your home suffers a flood, you will have a clear idea of what items need to be repaired or replaced. From there, you can provide this list to your insurance company when filing a claim to ensure you receive the payout you require. If you don’t have time to upkeep a list, you can also take photos of your home every three months to ensure that you have updated photos and work through those to make a list.
Store high-value and sentimental items on higher levels of your home
Again, this won’t prevent water damage from happening in the first place but it can mitigate the impact of it. Storing high-value items, such as fine jewellery or vintage wine, along with sentimental items, such as old photos, on higher levels of your home will make it less likely that they are damaged if your home floods. Since the majority of household floods occur in the basement, storing precious belongings on the main or upper floor of your house minimizes the odds that they will be damaged. Plus, if no high-value items are damaged or lost in a flood, your insurance claim won’t be as large.
Hire a professional to inspect your HVAC and sump pump each year
Having a professional HVAC inspector visit your home and assess your heating system and sump pump is another tip for preventing flooding in your home. Many types of HVAC units require water to run, which is why they are often the culprit for water damage. Thankfully, if you have your units professionally maintained each year, it’s far more likely that you will catch any issues early on and can fix them before they lead to bigger issues, like water damage in your home. Your sump pump should also be inspected as this device is what will minimize the odds of flooding, so if it isn’t working properly, it can spell trouble. Overall, preventative maintenance of the HVAC units and sump pump in your home is crucial if you want to reduce the odds of water damage and flooding in your home. Even better, regular maintenance can extend the lifespan of your equipment.
Keep your gutters clean
Keeping your gutters clean is vital if you want to avoid flooding in your home. Dirty gutters are a common cause of water damage and one that can be easily avoided by cleaning them throughout the year. In the fall, leaves can easily fill up your eavestrough, preventing water from flowing down correctly. Meanwhile, in the winter, snow and ice can quickly fill up the gutters, and when it melts, it can quickly overflow and cause pooling around the foundation of your home. Thus, in addition to cleaning your gutters, make sure to test that all downspouts are working correctly, i.e. they are directing water away from your home and not towards it.
Inspect your home before buying
As you have likely learned from this list, inspecting your home regularly is key. Beyond inspecting the roof and HVAC units of the home you own, we also recommend inspecting the home as a whole before buying it. Home inspections often occur during the home buying process but before the deal is done. In fact, many home sales are conditional on a successful home inspection. When you hire a professional home inspector to assess your home, they will evaluate all aspects of it. This includes the roof, HVAC units, foundation, and more. In other words, they will assess its condition, which can give you an idea of how likely it is to flood or how susceptible it will be to water damage. If the home inspection reveals that your home’s foundation is weak or there are several cracks in the basement, you can make the decision to pull out of the sale or request that the homeowner fix these issues before you move in. When buying a home, conducting a home inspection is important if you want to ensure the property is in the best possible shape before the move-in date.
Add multiple forms of insurance to your property insurance policy
Finally, if you want to mitigate the financial impact of flooding in your home, be sure to add flood insurance to your property insurance policy. Flood insurance may look like overland water coverage, sewer backup coverage, or both. At the end of the day, the more flood insurance you have, the better off you will be if your home suffers water damage. For more information on how flood coverage works with home insurance or advice on what types of coverage to add to your policy, contact BrokerLink.
Extra types of home insurance coverage you may want to add to your home insurance policy
Overland water coverage is just one type of additional home insurance coverage that policyholders may wish to add to their property insurance policies. Insurance companies across Canada typically offer all kinds of extra coverage options, like home business coverage, sewer backup coverage, equipment breakdown coverage, and more. Below are a few examples of three of the most common types of coverage that can be added to your home insurance policy as an endorsement or rider:
Home business coverage
Home business coverage is important for any homeowner in Canada who works out of their homes or owns and operates a home-based business. With this type of coverage, you can be protected against any business-related losses or damage that occur in your home. For example, if a client injures themselves while visiting your home office and sues you, your insurer would help pay for the legal fees, medical expenses, and more. Similarly, if a burglar broke into your home and stole business inventory that was stored in your basement, your insurer may help cover the cost of replacing it. However, without home business coverage, your home insurance is unlikely to cover you for business loss related to your home, leaving you to pay for them out of pocket.
Sewer backup coverage
As mentioned above, sewer backup coverage is another type of flood insurance that can be added to home insurance plans in Canada. Unlike overland water protection, it covers policyholders specifically if wastewater backs up into their homes, resulting in water damage. Since water damage from sewer backups can be extensive, adding this form of flood insurance to your policy can save you a lot of money down the line.
Equipment breakdown coverage
Equipment breakdown coverage is designed to protect the household equipment and appliances in your home should they suffer an internal failure. For example, if your oven were to break down from a mechanical or electrical failure, your insurance company would help pay to repair or replace it. The same goes if it was your dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, refrigerator, air conditioner, or furnace that broke down. Reach out to BrokerLink for more information on what types of household equipment this form of coverage can protect against.
Get in touch with BrokerLink to learn more about how overland water protection works
Do you want to learn more about overland water protection and the benefits it offers Canadian homeowners? Get in touch with BrokerLink today. One of our home insurance specialists would be pleased to explain the advantages of overland water coverage, explain flood damage myths, and walk you through other types of home insurance as well, such as equipment breakdown coverage, dwelling coverage, home business coverage, and more. Beyond explaining how different types of property insurance work, we can also help you find a great policy at an unbeatable price. A dedicated BrokerLink insurance advisor will shop around for you to find the best possible coverage at a price you can afford. Get started today by requesting a free home insurance quote using our online quote tool. Prefer to get in touch the old-fashioned way? Give us a call or visit any one of the 200+ BrokerLink branches across Canada.
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