7 Ways to Protect Yourself from Water Damage


Water Damage Responsible for 40% of Home Insurance Claims

According to Aviva Canada Inc., a major Canadian insurer, more than 40% of all of its home insurance claims were due to water damage in 2012. While everyone in the insurance industry is aware that water damage claims comprise a high number of claims, seeing an actual number like that can really drive home the point that you need to take steps to prevent water damage.

While we’ve generally covered how you should protect your home from water damage in the past, here are 7 tips that can help you minimize your risk and keep from having to file a water damage claim yourself.

1. Remove Any Obstacles for Water to Flow Off and Away From Your Home

Aviva suggests clearing out gutters, making sure that window wells are free of debris that could trap water, and to make sure snow is removed from around the home in the winter. Of course that last suggestion may make some Canadians laugh when the snow is 10 feet deep around your house, but it’s something to consider when preparing your home for the winter. Digging a trench that lets snow melt or any other water divert itself away from the foundation could save you a lot of work in the winter and possibly trouble during a heavy rain.

2. Fiddle On The Roof

Each spring and fall, inspect your shingles and your roof for damage, and replace any shingles that are peeling away or any other problems you may find up there. Regularly check the rooms directly underneath your roof, such as bedrooms and your attic, for potential leaks and do the appropriate repairs when you find them to keep them from growing into larger issues.

3. Install an Overflow Valve in Your Tub

Most tubs have a valve that allows the bathtub to drain if it overfills above a certain level. Check this periodically since another potential water damage hazard is forgetting about a tub that is filling. It may sound like something a sane person will never do, but if you’re trying to put kids to bed while bathing another, you can see how these things can happen. All it takes is one phone call or any type of distraction and presto – overfilled bathtub with water leaking over the sides and potentially into the ceiling of the room below. If you don’t have an overflow valve installed, consider getting one.

4. Kids and Taps = Potential Issues

Kids get distracted very easily, and can leave taps running after washing their hands or brushing their teeth. Just like your tub, make sure your bathroom sinks have overflow valves built into them, and check them regularly to make sure they aren’t clogged. And make sure you tell your kids how important it is to turn off taps. If you connect turning off taps with saving water and the environment, they may pay a little more attention to making sure the tap is off when they’re done.

5. Lay Out Basement Rec Rooms Carefully

More Canadians are building massive entertainment centres in their basements. They’re fabulous in the summer since they can be kept cool with minimal air conditioning, but not so fabulous if the basement floods. When designing your rec room, install electronics on shelves made of durable wood or steel at least 12” above the floor. This way, if your basement floods, your electronics will be protected. Don’t furnish your basement rec room with expensive furniture that you may have to put in a claim for; save the nice stuff for the living room and check out IKEA or your local thrift shop to furnish the downstairs romper room.

6. Don’t Store Valuables in The Basement

A former business colleague of mine invested in art. Unfortunately, he chose to store his investments in his basement, and as Murphy would have it that basement flooded. While his insurance covered the lot, you can bet his premiums went up to the point where he stopped pursuing what had up until then been a profitable side business. Don’t be that guy. Store valuables like artwork, your kid’s precious school memories, photographs, and so on in a spot that isn’t likely to be flooded out.

7. Water Damage Another Reason to Use an Insurance Broker

Water damage claims can be tricky, mostly because insurers lose so much through them that the process for submitting one can be more laborious than a different type of claim. If you’re a client of ours, we’ll tell you if there are consequences such as higher premiums that may make putting in a claim for a small amount of damage the wrong choice. We’ll also be able to help you navigate any red tape that there may be in submitting a claim, since we’ve been there and done that before. If you’re dealing directly with the insurance company, they’ll be helpful, but you’ll end up doing a lot more of the legwork and won’t have the benefit of the advice of a broker.

President of First Foundation Residential Mortgages and First Foundation Insurance. Live in Edmonton but cheer for the Riders. I have lots of kids. Follow me on Twitter @gordmccallum

Learn more about Gordon McCallum