Worried about flooding? Check your home insurance policy now
While many waterlogged Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Quebec residents are feverishly checking the weather forecast, a growing number are also poring over the fine print on their homeowner’s insurance policies.
- Scroll down or click here to vote in our poll of the day
More heavy rain is expected across large swaths of central and eastern Canada. Residents in some areas are already being told to be ready to leave their homes at a moment’s notice.
Downpours have already begun in the Greater Toronto Area. Ottawa, Quebec, and the Maritimes will likely see stronger storms arrive overnight Friday and intensify into the weekend.
Île Bizard near Laval, Que., is one of the communities bracing for more rain. Local police say entire neighbourhoods there are already surrounded by rising water. They’re telling residents to prepare their homes while they still can.
“The water will get higher, so take precautions,” Laval Police Const. Evelyne Boudreau told CTV Montreal on Thursday. “We do invite people to call us if they need sandbags or any prevention measures.”
As of this March, Quebec homeowners have the option of buying flood insurance as an add-on endorsement to their policy, according to Pierre Babinsky of the Insurance Board of Canada. Even if you think you are covered, he recommends going over your policy to make sure your home is adequately protected.
“Some people who did experience flooding may be covered for flooding. In other cases, they would not. The government has a program through their public safety that can also help people with claims should they not be insured,” he said.
Assessing your water-related coverage can be difficult. Some polices cover damage from broken water mains, hot water tanks and other appliances, but not sewer backup, or so-called “overland water” from heavy rain, melting snow, or overflowing bodies of water.
Until 2015, those that suffered serious flood damage had to rely on disaster financial assistance programs provided by the federal and provincial governments. Many found themselves stuck with hefty repair bills following incidents like the Southern Alberta floods in 2013 and the major flood in Toronto that same year.
Babinsky warns insurance providers are increasingly taking notice of severe weather trends tied to climate change. If flooding becomes a regular occurrence in a given neighbourhoods, he says finding a policy could become expensive if not impossible.
“Normally insurance is designed to cover you for unforeseen, unplanned circumstances. If you are flooded every year and it becomes a certainty, that’s not the objective of insurance,” he said. “If you’re living right near the water, the insurer may deem that the risk is too high.”
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Cindy Sherwin