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Top ten tips to protect your home against water damage

Water damage graph. - Contributed
Water damage graph.
— image credit: Contributed

After the worst year for water damage claims in Canadian history, Aviva Canada Inc., one of the country's leading providers of home, auto, leisure and business insurance, is encouraging Canadians to take steps to protect their property this spring.

"With last year's storms, water damage reached an all time high making up 51 per cent of all Aviva Canada property claims," said Wayne Ross, vice-president of property claims for Aviva Canada. "The flooding in Alberta and Toronto certainly played a big part in the increase, but the general trend is upward. And as severe weather events are growing in frequency, we expect to see more situations like this in the future."

Aviva Canada paid out a record of over $190 million in water damage claims in 2013, a 69 per cent increase versus 2012.

If the 2013 Alberta and Toronto catastrophes were removed from the calculation, water damage would have still made up 40 per cent of all property claims for Aviva Canada. The 40 per cent is still a large portion of total property damage claims and illustrates the need to be aware of how to protect your property this spring with the winter melt underway.

Data also shows that in 2013, the average cost of a water damage claim rose to $20,537, a 130 per cent increase versus the $8,944 that the company experienced 10 years earlier. Even with the flooding catastrophes removed, the figures have trended higher for a number of years.

"The reasons for the upward trend are rather simple," said Wayne Ross. "The increasing investment Canadians are putting into their basements, combined with more frequent severe weather events and an aging sewer system that is unable to deal with large amounts of water within a short time period, results in a lot of homes experiencing damage."

Aviva Canada applauds the recent infrastructure investment announcements made by the Alberta and Manitoba governments and would love to see other provinces follow suit.

And while an insurance policy is in place to protect against certain weather events, Canadians need to protect themselves against loss. Many Canadians are unaware that overland flooding, such as water swells from nearby rivers or lakes, is not covered under standard home insurance policies and that this coverage is not widely available.

The top ten steps Canadians should take this spring to safeguard their homes and possessions from water damage are:

  1. Inspect your roof: To prevent leaks, get the roof inspected every few years to check the condition of the shingles and replace when necessary
  2. Clear out gutters: Prevent blockages, such as leaves and other debris that could force water into your home
  3. Install a backwater valve: These valves close automatically if the sewer backs up and can prevent thousands of dollars in damage
  4. Scope out your sump pump: If your basement has one, examine it and conduct a test run if it doesn't get used frequently
  5. Slope right: Ensure that soil, walkways and patios slope away from the home to allow for proper drainage
  6. Check your foundation: As ice melts, if you notice water pooling in certain areas, clear it away from your home
  7. Ensure your window wells are debris-free: Clear any accumulated garbage or leaves to allow water to drain properly
  8. Ensure street catch basins are not blocked: These prevent snow from building up on the street level, protecting water from seeping towards your property
  9. Protect your valuables: If your home is prone to water damage, consider moving valuables away from high-risk areas such as the basement, or place items on high shelves or risers
  10. Start right: If you are finishing your basement, make sure to seal your exterior walls.

Without taking such precautions, homeowners could put their homes and family belongings at great risk.  A provincial breakdown of the comparison in the average cost of water damage claims from 2003 versus 2013 is included here. The data highlights the increases experienced in Alberta and Ontario, and also the trend that has taken place across the country over the last 10 years.

Canadians are encouraged to reach out to their insurance broker to make sure they know the extent of their water damage coverage.

For more information visit AvivaCanada.com

 

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