Protect against water damage with a few easy tips

October 15, 2014

You may think your insurance coverage protects against water damage, but some policies don’t. Either way, with a bit of vigilance you can minimize the risks.

According to a survey by the Insurance Bureau of Canada, 81 per cent of respondents believed their insurance policy protected them against sewer backup, and 73 per cent believed they were insured for damages caused by a leaky roof. That kind of insurance protection does exist; however, it isn’t automatically included in a home insurance policy. Similarly, if you think you’re automatically insured against a flood, be forewarned: a flooding river is not an insurable risk. Is that enough to convince you to protect against water damage?

Protect against water damage with a few easy tips

Maintenance and vigilance

You’ll minimize the likelihood of water accidents if you make sure your home and property are well maintained. Make sure your hot water tank, water pipes and sewage system are in good shape. Inspect them regularly and do any basic maintenance work on them that’s required. Have a plumber take care of any problems that exceed your abilities. Here are some other tips to help you and your home stay dry.


  • Keep an eye on your sink fixtures and all appliances that use running water. If they need work, have it done right away. To avoid overflow accidents, stay close when filling the bath and sinks and when you use the dishwasher and washing machine.
  • Regularly inspect the pipes hidden beneath sinks and washbasins. Are they completely dry? If you find a leak, seal it yourself or have a plumber do the job.
  • Make sure your hot water tank is in good condition. Replace it roughly every 10 years. If it leaks, look into the warranty and have it repaired or replaced.
  • In an older home, make sure there is a check or non-return valve to keep sewage from backing up in your basement. You can have a proper valve installed by a plumber.
  • Make sure your sump pump is working properly and is connected to a backup source of power.


  • Clean the gutters regularly. If they’re clogged with leaves or debris they’ll back up and can cause water to infiltrate the walls and roof of your home.
  • Make sure your roof is in perfect condition in order to prevent water seepage under the shingles.
  • Before the first heavy frost, turn off the plumbing to the outside water faucet so your pipes won’t burst.
  • In winter, remove any snow that drifts against the basement windows to prevent snowmelt seepage in the spring.

So, what about your insurance?

Despite all your best efforts, a water disaster can still happen. Just make sure you’re protected against water damage by reviewing the details of your policy or talking to your insurance broker. The majority of basic contracts only cover accidental and unpredictable water damage. You might want to make some changes to your policy so you’ll be better protected against all the other possibilities.

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