How to prepare for flood season in Alberta

It’s never too early to prepare for flood season in Alberta.

“As we look ahead to spring, it’s important to remember that snowmelt and rainfall will become more common and can cause water damage at home,” says Caroline Gould, Director of Personal Insurance and Signature Service with Rogers Insurance in Calgary.

“Thinking about this early in the new year gives you more time to prepare for flood season.”

Being prepared means staying on top of upkeep and maintenance around the house as well as ensuring your insurance policy provides proper coverage for water damage.

There are four primary ways water can wreak havoc at home:

  1. Sewer backup
    Clogs, objects that impede plumbing lines, and even significant rainfall or snowmelt can overwhelm the municipality’s sewer lines, causing water to backflow into your home.
  2. Rainfall
    A torrential downpour can cause water to pool around and ultimately enter your home through cracks and windows or cause your sump pump to fail.
  3. River Flooding
    Overflowing rivers can cause significant damage to your home. The 2013 Southern Alberta floods and the spring 2020 flooding in Fort McMurray showcase the devastating destruction that can happen.
  4. Burst water pipes
    Frozen pipes can result in cracks from which water can leak. In case you missed it in our December newsletter, here are seven things you can do to prevent frozen pipes this winter.

Your home is more than a structure—it’s your personal sanctuary that houses a lifetime of memories and irreplaceable sentimental items. Here’s what you can do to protect these valuables and your home:

Review your insurance policy with your broker

Various forms of water damage coverage can be added to your standard homeowners policy. In particular, sewer backup and overland water coverages are additional protection you may want to include.

Sewer backup insurance covers damages caused by water or sewage that backs flows and enters the home through sewer lines, septic tanks or sump pumps.

Overland water insurance covers damages caused by flooded rivers or lakes and can also include damages from heavy rainfall or snowmelt.

Talking with your broker prior to spring will ensure you’re properly covered before the snow melts and prior to Alberta’s rainy season. Both situations can increase the risk of flooding.

Your coverage will depend on where your dwelling is located and the insurance provider you are with.

 

Related reading: How water-wise are you?

 

Owners and tenants who live in multi-unit dwellings—such as condos and apartment buildings—should discuss the possibility of including sewer backup and overland water coverages.

As Gould points out, access to your unit may be restricted if your building suffers an overland water loss or sewer backup. If you do not carry these coverages, you’ll be responsible for the costs of additional living expenses and any loss assessment.

Do what you can to prevent damage

Regular maintenance can go a long way in protecting your home from water and minimizing the damage that sewer backups, rainfall, flooding or burst water pipes can cause.

Gould recommends you focus on the following areas:

  • Keep your gutters clean and clear of debris. Dirty gutters can cause water to spill out over the side and pool alongside your foundation.
  • Cover your window wells. Covers will prevent water and snow from accumulating around basement windows.
  • Prevent water from pooling up around your house. You can do this by keeping snow piles away from windows and doors as well as extending drainpipes at least two metres away from your house.
  • Be aware of what goes down the drain. Putting things like grease, paper towels and cat litter can cause clogs and result in a sewer backup.
  • Keep your valuables properly stored. Move valuables out of the basement if possible. If not, keep these items off the floor and in sealed containers.
  • Fill cracks in your foundation. Not only can water seep in through these cracks, they can also weaken the structure of your house.
  • Repair cracked pipes right away. A significant amount of water can leak out of even the smallest crack.

If you do experience water damage at home, make sure to turn off your water; minimize damage by removing items from the flooded area, only if it’s safe to do so; and, contact your broker as soon as possible. Our 24-hour after-hours emergency claims line can be reached at 1-866-212-3239.

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