It is flood season again in Alberta. Given the amount of snowfall we’ve had, it’s a topic that is top of mind for many. According to a recent Global News story, Calgary has seen from 110 to 136 per cent as much snow as we did in 2013 – when the province saw catastrophic flooding in June – although experts did say it was an unusual combination of events (including several days of heavy rain) that resulted in the deluge. More than $5 billion of total damage was incurred, with $1.7 billion of that being insured. This, unfortunately, caused home insurance rates to rise in Alberta.
While we all cross our fingers that there’s not yet another extreme weather event in Alberta, due to the massive melt we are seeing (with lots more snow having just fallen) it is more than likely that several people will experience some kind of flooding – whether it be due to seepage or a sewer backup. It’s relatively simple to mitigate against these occurrences, however, especially if you start early.
Outdoor Flood Mitigation Tasks
First, as we warm up, be sure to move all piles of snow away from the sides of your house. Then examine your home’s exterior foundation and check your weatherstripping, windows, doors and walls. Make sure all exterior home elements are sealed up nice and tight.
Point your downspouts away from your home, and add extensions if exit points are not at least three feet away from your foundation. If you can safely do so, knock as much excess snow off your roof as well. While you’re at it, visually inspect for ice dams, which can cause serious damage to roofs, walls and beams. Also clear out any blockages in your gutters to allow for the free flow of drainage. After the winter we’ve had, it’s highly advisable to have a roof inspection performed to note any existing problems and point out any potential future complications.
Check Your Foundation and Basement
Inside your home:
- Examine all foundation walls and basement floors for evidence of cracks or gaps, and close up any you find with a heavy-duty sealant.
- Large electrical appliances should be raised off the floor by cement blocks or wooden pallets.
- It is not advisable to keep valuables in the basement, but if you must, make sure they are placed high on shelves.
- Check your hot water storage tank regularly to make sure it is not corroded. This can prevent leaks or spills that would otherwise cause major damage.
Aside from the obvious loss of possessions, basement flooding can also cause mould, which is not covered by your home insurance plan. Mould thrives in damp, musty environments, and can also cause serious health problems.
Test Your Backflow Valve and Sump Pump
Backflow valves are one of your best protections against flooding caused by an overstressed sewer system. They should be checked every six months, and now is the perfect time to do it. Backflow valves are placed in your sewer lateral, and will automatically close if the sewer backs up. Do not install a backup valve yourself, call a certified plumber to do so.
Also check to make sure you have sewer backup coverage included or added as a rider to your home insurance plan.
If you live in one of Alberta’s flood zones, a sump pump is a very good idea. Depending on your provider, some policy-holders can also qualify for up to $1,000 for the installation of a sump pump or other approved mitigation device. Again, have the installation done by a certified professional, as failure to do so could result in your coverage being nullified.
Flood Insurance In Alberta
Remember: standard homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover overland flooding. The only way to protect yourself is to add it to your policy as a specific named peril. Since 2013 several providers in Canada have begun providing overland flooding coverage, and if you are at high risk for water entering your home, ask your insurance broker for more information.
In addition, one of our respected providers, Intact Insurance has developed a new enhanced water damage package endorsement for your Calgary-area home insurance. This comprehensive protection was designed to replace Intact’s current Water Escape/Backup Extension endorsement, and provides four extensive levels of protection, safeguarding you from virtually every type of flooding situation.
- Sewer backup protection
- Overland water coverage
- Ground water coverage option
- Water and sewer line protection
Home Insurance in Calgary: Get the Lane’s Team Working for You
Lane’s Insurance is a leading Alberta-based brokerage. Choosing a broker is a wise move for consumers looking to protect their interests when dealing with insurance providers. Brokers work for you, not the insurance companies, so they always look out for your best interests and they never recommend products that don’t fit your need just for the sake of making a sale.
In addition to home insurance, Lane’s Insurance offers a complete range of policies and coverage options for just about every imaginable situation. You can count on Lane’s for great rates on auto, business, travel and health insurance, and more.
Lane’s Insurance is pleased to serve homeowners and residents throughout Alberta. Use the following regional links to contact us at:
- Our Calgary office
- Our Edmonton office
- Our Banff office
- Serving the rest of Alberta