What's up with water damage?

When it comes to home insurance, water damage is a hot topic.

Over the past few years, Alberta weather has become more extreme, particularly during the summer hail, wind and rain season. We’ve seen an increase in property claims during these months and a growing number of questions about what kind of water damage our home insurance policies cover.

It’s important to know that most residential property insurance policies in Canada don’t cover overland flooding. This type of flooding happens when water overflows onto dry land and causes damage. Insurance companies would have to charge more than most individuals could afford in order to maintain a healthy enough money pool to cover damage associated with this type of flooding.

To help make it a little easier, here’s an overview of the water damage a home insurance policy typically does and doesn’t cover:

What’s covered?

• Damage caused by indoor plumbing, heating, sprinkler or air conditioning emergencies are usually covered, as long as the damage isn’t the result of a long-term problem such as repeated leaking or condensation. The cost of repairing the original problem isn’t covered.

• Damage caused by the malfunction of appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, water beds or aquariums is usually covered, although the cost to repair the appliance that caused the problem is usually not covered.

• Damage from a broken water main, which covers the escape of water from a public water main whether it occurs in or outside your home.

• Wind and hail damage to your home’s exterior, interior and your personal property. Damage to your home’s interior must be due to water entering through openings created by wind or hail.

What’s not covered?

• Basement seepage (water from below the surface of the ground through your foundation walls, basement floor or windows).

• Damage to the outside of your house caused by melting snow or ice.

• A leaky roof due to preventative wear and tear.

• Damage resulting from freezing of indoor plumbing if damage happens while you’re away and you didn’t have someone check your home.

Sewer Backup

If you have sewer backup coverage on your policy, here’s what’s covered:

• Damage caused by sewer backup (the backup of or escape of water from a sewer, sump or septic tank).

Here’s what’s not covered:

• Damage caused by sewer backup if the damage is a direct result of overland flooding. [The Enhanced Water Endorsement is being updated June 1, 2016]

It’s a good idea to review your home insurance policy every year to make sure you continue to have the coverage you need. If you have questions, touch base with your insurance advisor for more tips and suggestions.

Since 1962, AMA has been providing reliable auto insurance to Albertans. We are proud of our strong Alberta roots and our history of protecting what matters most to you.