Property insurance is changing – what you need to know

There has been a huge increase in catastrophic severe weather events – we saw it most recently with the ice storm that most heavily affected the Greater Toronto Area. And that trend will continue. The severe storms that used to happen every 40 years are now happening every six years. Since the 1960s, disaster damage has doubled every five to seven years.

This resulted in the amount of insured damage from extreme weather growing by 650% from 2006 to 2012. It also means that claims for water damage have now surpassed fire.
What’s the damage?

We’ve all heard stories about flooded basements with big storms and major thaws – often from sewer back-ups, burst pipes or a sump pump failure (or lack of a sump pump). But water damage can also occur from roof leaks, overflow or leaks from toilets and leaks from appliances.
Just one inch of water in your basement can:

  • Destroy irreplaceable or sentimental items
  • Damage carpeting, furniture and electronic equipment
  • Cause structural damage
  • Depreciate the house value
  • Cause potential health issues due to mould.

So what’s changing?

We want to help you protect your home and property. That’s why we’re offering new choices for you:

  • Increased rates for sustainability. Some companies are raising sewer back-up rates for homeowners so that insurance companies can keep rates affordable over the long-term.
  • New sewer back-up options. Other companies are offering more choice for homeowners with flexibility in pricing and coverage. This will help manage costs toward a sustainable product for the future.
  • Greater clarity on coverage. Insurance companies are being more transparent. You can now see how your insurance dollars are allocated for all perils.
  • New discounts. Companies are now offering new discounts for preventative steps that you can take as a homeowner. These include a new hot water tank, tankless water heaters, auto-shut off valve and sensors, sump pumps, backwater valves and unfinished basements.

What can you do to protect yourself?

As our infrastructure ages, we fill our homes with more water using appliances like dishwashers, clothes washers and humidifiers that are on the ground or second floor, more finished basements with expensive electronics and fewer people are home during the day, the cost of water damage increases.

But there are steps you can take:

Outside your home

  • Replace aging or worn shingles on your roof.
  • Install a waterproof membrane or barrier when you replace your roof.
  • Clean your eavestroughs once a year.
  • Extend all your downspouts six feet away from the exterior walls to drain away from your house.
  • Disconnect downspouts connected to the municipal sewer systems or weeping tiles.
  • Consider using a rain barrel to prevent run off, but make sure to disconnect it in the winter.
  • Turn off the water supply to outside spouts in the late fall.
  • Seal cracks in the foundation walls.
  • Make sure that you have weeping tile and that your property is properly graded.

Inside your home

  • Have a plumber install a backwater valve.
  • Install a sump pump if you don’t have one already.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for your sump pump and ensure that you have a reliable back-up power source.
  • Replace aging, corroded or blocked pipes.
  • Install a water alarm/shut-off system.
  • Replace aging fixtures, tubs and toilets.
  • Insulate your pipes.
  • Don’t leave running taps unattended.
  • Don’t dump fat or grease down the drain.
  • Replace aging appliances.
  • Replace plastic connection lines with CSA steel-braided hoses.
  • Insulate the attic properly.
  • Consider a tankless water heater (there’s a discount for this!)
  • Store items in your basement off of the floors and in plastic containers.

And that’s not all you can do.

  • Have a licensed plumber inspect your house – especially if you’re in an older home.
  • Make sure that everyone in your home knows where the shut-off valve is.
  • Don’t run your appliances like your washer when no one’s home.
  • If you’re away for an extended time, especially in the winter, have someone check on your house while you’re gone.
  • Check with your municipality to see if they offer special programs that protect you against basement flooding.

At Secure Insurance we’re always here to help and offer any advice and clarifications on your policy. Contact us today and we’ll make sure that you have the best coverage at the best price.