Home Inspection Articles

Extreme Weather & Home Insurance: A Storm Is Brewing

Posted by Thea Scrimger on Jan 30, 2014 9:19:00 AM

StormyThe extreme weather witnessed this winter may present more than just physical problems for homeowners. The frigid temperatures brought on by the polar vortex have negatively affected many properties across North America. Countless downed trees, prolonged power outages, and frozen everything have contributed to a difficult few weeks. Winter is already considered to be the harshest season on homes, as its freeze/thaw cycles can cause significant amounts of damage.

Unfortunately this could translate into future headaches for homeowners - not all of them related to how their home and its systems are performing. Global News is reporting that home insurance premiums will likely be going up as a result of the ice storm. They warn that “homeowners should prepare to pay more for property insurance as the severe weather trend that has battered the country during the past year is expected to continue.”*

In fact, some insurance companies have already begun to change their policies based on recent events and the claims homeowners have made as a result. “Intact Financial Corp…one of Canada’s largest property and casualty insurers, raised premiums by 10 to 20 per cent during the past few months as catastrophic losses and weather-related claims have risen.”*

Reflecting on the extreme storms Canada has suffered through 2013, from the flash-flooding in July to December’s ice, Intact Financial Corp. spokesman Gilles Gratton posits, “…the impacts of climate change coupled with urban growth, aging municipal infrastructure and the greater prevalence of finished basements are posing new challenges to the industry.”*

Data from the Insurance Bureau of Canada suggested that it’s possible this weather-driven shift in premiums, pricing and coverage has been a long time coming. They reported “the amount of insured damage resulting from extreme weather in Canada grew from less than $200 million in 2006 to $1.2 billion in 2012.”*

What Does This Mean For Homeowners?

SavingMoneyWhile there is little you can do in the face of high insurance premiums, especially when this price increase is a national trend, there are other ways you can limit the financial toll that extreme weather can take. Lessening the potential for damage through regular maintenance and upkeep can help you, your home, (and your wallet), in the long run. When it comes to extreme weather and protecting your property, preparation is key.

We have several articles that relate to home maintenance in winter. Check them out and see how your own maintenance routine and knowledge compares.

In addition, it's important to make sure you and your family are ready for an emergency. The Government of Canada’s Get Prepared Website is a great resource. With information on how to plan and create a survival kit this website is a valuable tool for every homeowner.

Do you have a Home Inspection issue or concern that you haven’t seen addressed here? Comment below or find us on Twitter or Facebook and let us know. We’ll do our best to help out.


*SOURCE: Romania Maurino, Global News -  http://globalnews.ca/news/1069688/extreme-wintry-weather-adds-to-mounting-insurance-pressures/  

Topics: Winter Tips, Insurance, Water Damage, Carson Dunlop, Homeowner Tips, Extreme Weather

Water Damage, Home Insurance, & You

Posted by Thea Scrimger on Jul 12, 2013 11:20:00 AM

FloodAs a Home Inspection company, we spend a great deal of our time talking about water: water damage, water intrusion, and alleviating these issues. We are regularly preaching about downspouts, gutters, and grading. We often cite water as the number one enemy of homes, and in light of Toronto's flash-flooding on Monday, now seems like a pertinent time to talk again about water and homeownership.

Of course, we recognize that humans need water to survive and that indoor plumbing has many advantages, but having water in your home where you shouldn’t have water is a problem – a big one. Water-related issues are such a big problem, in fact, that they are beginning to impact insurance policies.

TD Insurance reports that “in recent years, with the Canadian climate changes and aging municipal infrastructure, the insurance industry has experienced a sharp increase in the number of claims related to severe weather and water damages. Water damage-related claims have now surpassed fire as the leading cause of home insurance losses in Canada.” This development has resulted in less coverage being available to Canadians looking to protect their homes from water damage.

Although it may be more difficult to ensure you’re protected from water intrusion through home insurance, there are other steps homeowners can take to help protect themselves. Regular maintenance and a watchful eye can help prevent problems from occurring.

The home has four major areas that homeowners should be conscious of when thinking about water intrusion. We have talked about them at length before, but we’ll outline them below:

  1. The Roof
    Your roof has several areas for you to pay attention to: does your roof have cracked, split, loose or missing shingles or other roof components? Repair or replace them. Where is water going in those areas where your roof changes direction, or where several flashings intersect? If water is staying put, or going into your home, it’s time for a change. Catching issues like these early can make a huge difference in terms of damage and cost.
  2. Gutters and Downspouts
    GuttersFor a small investment of $50 or less, downspout extensions can help to protect your home by keeping water away from the foundation, avoiding the potential for costly repairs. Non-functioning and improperly installed gutters and downspouts contribute to basement moisture. Make sure that your gutters and downspouts are fully intact, clear of debris, and extend far enough, at least six feet, to direct water away from your home.
  3. Window Wells
    Water and debris can get trapped in your window well, allowing moisture to intrude into your basement. To avoid this, the bottom of your window well should contain several inches of gravel to allow water to drain from the well. A drainage pipe, filled with gravel (to prevent it from collapsing, but still allowing water to pass), should extend down the drainage tile around the perimeter of the footing (if one exists). As an alternative, a clear plastic dome can be installed over the window well to keep water and debris out.
  4. Grading
    GradingNo foundation wall system is completely waterproof. Water accumulating in the soil outside your home will leak through eventually. To combat this, it is essential to keep the soil outside your home dry. Achieving dry soil can be done by ensuring the ground around your home slopes away from your home, rather than towards it. The ground around the home should slope down six inches for the first ten feet away from the home; this can often be achieved by adding topsoil. The theory is simple – if there’s no water in the soil on the outside of the foundation wall, no water will get into the interior. 

In light of the insurance updates addressed by TD Insurance and the extreme weather cities such as Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto have been experiencing, we would like to encourage homeowners to review their current home insurance policies to determine the level of coverage they have for water-related issues. In addition, we cannot over-stress the importance of performing the maintenance items discussed above. Being mindful of these areas should help to limit the potential for water damage in your home.

Did you experience flooding during Toronto’s recent extreme storm? The City of Toronto has implemented a new program to help homeowners protect themselves against basement flooding. To learn more about the grants that may be available to you, please click here.

Topics: Insurance, Water Damage, Carson Dunlop, Homeowner Tips