My daughter Ariel lives in Ottawa in a 25-year old row house. She had an inspection before purchasing the house, but a hairline crack in the foundation was not discovered until after a sudden freeze and thaw last winter, she found water was pouring into her basement.
Her insurance company told her that water damage was not covered under her policy because repairing a crack is considered routine maintenance.
To minimize further leakage, the insurance company suggested that all snow or water around the foundation be cleared away. For several days she and her friends took shifts on a bucket brigade and then bought a hand-operated pump for $60 from a hardware store. While she still had to pay to have the crack fixed, it cost much less than if a full basement renovation had been required.
Environment Canada is predicting warmer-than-normal temperatures for the rest of the winter. So here are some suggestions from Insurance Bureau of Canada to help reduce the risk of water damage:
- Keep drains clear.
- If you are away from home for more than three days have someone check your property.
- Ensure that there is proper grading around your home.
- Install a sump pump.
- Install backflow valves or plugs for drains, toilets and other sewer connections to prevent water from entering the home.
- Store important documents and irreplaceable personal objects (such as photographs) where they will not get damaged.
"Homeowners should also talk to their insurance representative about purchasing sewer backup coverage as an add-on to their insurance policy," suggests Bill Adams, an IBC vice president.
While above ground flooding is not covered by insurance in Canada, obtaining sewer backup coverage may be prudent in low-lying areas, especially if the area has combined storm and sanitary sewers.