Everyone remembers the epic rainstorm of July 2013. A storm that shut the city down for hours and caused havoc on the roads, emergency recovery efforts on GO trains, and 1000s of flooded basements across southern Ontario. As climate change intensifies our weather systems, we can continue to expect more intense rainstorms that occur more frequently. It could be more important than ever to carry flood insurance on your home or business.
As a homeowner, this can be worrisome. Many of the homes in the GTA are not build to handle these monsoon-like rains. While getting stuck in traffic due to rain is an annoyance, a flooded basement can be a huge financial burden, often costing homeowners tens of thousands of dollars.
When extreme weather causes damage to your house, do you know if your insurance is protecting you? This is a question to ask yourself, and your insurance provider, before flooding occurs. Too many people wait until after a flood to find out they have no coverage. House insurance, unlike auto insurance, is not standardized, so each policy is different and flooding may not be a part of your policy.
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Canada is the only G8 country that does not offer insurance protection against overland flooding (flooding caused by a major rainfall, rapid thawing of snow or the overflow of a river), but most homeowners are unaware of this rule. Unfortunately most homeowners don’t find this out until flooding has already occurred. Insurance experts are on the fence as to whether this should be available in Canada. Many think it would be so costly that most homeowners would opt out.
Sewage backup occurs when the municipal sewage lines overflow and send water back up into your basement. There are many reasons this may happen but the most common is in the event of a substantial rainfall, or rapid snow thaw that the drainage system cannot handle. The damage this inflicts on a home can be both short term and long term. Floors and furniture are usually damaged immediately, but mold and bacteria can have long lasting effects. Sewage backup coverage is available in Ontario. It is usually and add on, so check with your insurance provider to make sure you are covered. The cost of adding sewage backup coverage is minimal compared to the cost of damages brought about by basement flooding.
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The old saying an “ounce of protection is worth a pound cure” can aptly be applied to basement flooding. Installing a sump pump in your basement, and checking it monthly, can save you thousands of dollars and weeks of clean up. Make sure you have a generator to keep it running in the event of a power outage. Ensuring your property is properly graded to move water away from your home can make a big difference in the event of an overland flood.
For those living in the City of Toronto, a basement flooding subsidy program is available. It offers up to $3,200 per household to help pay for the installation of flood protection devices.
No matter what type of flooding you experience in your basement, it’s always best to contact an experienced flood insurance lawyer to help you navigate the often complicated insurance battle you will need to undertake.
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