With a heavy spring thaw underway, Canadians are seeking various ways to protect their homes this season. Approximately 40 per cent of all home insurance claims are the result of water damage, according to data from Aviva Canada Inc., one of the country’s leading providers of home, auto, leisure and business insurance. The data also shows that the average cost of water damage claims rose 117%, from $7,192 in 2002 to over $15,500 in 2012, a year in which the company paid out over $111 million in property water damage claims. Last year’s spring thaw was unusually uneventful, due to the dry winter that preceded it but with a more normal snow-filled winter winding down, Canadians should be more proactive in 2013.
“With so many Canadians making a significant investment in their basements as more of a comfortable living space than a grungy storage room, a greater value in belongings in a high-risk area of the home has led to an increase in number of water damage claims,” said Wayne Ross, Vice President of Property Claims for Aviva Canada. “We strongly encourage homeowners to take matters into their own hands in order to protect their homes.” The top ten steps Canadians should take this spring to safeguard their homes and possessions from water damage are:
Inspect your roof: To prevent leaks, get the roof inspected every few years to check the condition of the shingles and replace when necessary.
Clear out gutters: Prevent blockages, such as leaves and other debris that could force water into your home.
Install a backwater valve: These valves close automatically if the sewer backs up and can prevent thousands of dollars in damage.
Scope out your sump pump: If your basement has one, examine it and conduct a test run if it doesn’t get used frequently.
Divert snow away from your home: Ensure that snow is removed from around your home, its foundation, doors and basement windows.
Check your foundation: As ice melts, if you notice water pooling in certain areas, clear the liquid away from your home.
Ensure your window wells are debris-free: Clear any accumulated garbage or leaves to allow water to drain properly.
Ensure street catch basins are not blocked: These prevent snow from building up on the street level, protecting water from seeping towards your property.
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.
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 increase in the average cost of water damage claims from 2002 to 2012 is included below. The data highlights that BC and Ontario have seen the highest percentage in the average cost of a water damage claim over the last ten years.