Water damage accounts for approximately 40% of all home insurance claims, according to data released Tuesday from Aviva Canada Inc.
The average cost of water damage claims rose 117% over 10 years, from $71,92 in 2002 to more than $15,500 in 2012, the insurer says. Aviva Canada paid out more than $111 million in property water damage claims in 2012 alone.
British Columbia has seen the highest increase in average cost of water damage claims at 154%, followed closely by Ontario at 136%, Alberta at 109% and Newfoundland and Labrador at 107%.
Rounding out the provincial breakdown for the 10-year period, is Quebec with an 84% increase, Nova Scotia with 61% and New Brunswick at 50%. Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island and the territories saw only a small number of claims and therefore were not broken out in the data provided by Aviva Canada.
As more and more Canadians invest in creating another living area in their basements, the increase in a greater value in belongings in a high-risk area of the home has led to an increase in the number of water damage claims, Wayne Ross, vice president of property claims for Aviva Canada, noted in a statement.
“We strongly encourage homeowners to take matters into their own hands in order to protect their homes,” he added.
The top ten steps Canadians should take this spring to safeguard their homes and possessions from water damage, according to Aviva Canada, are:
1. Inspect the roof: To prevent leaks, get the roof inspected every few years to check the condition of the shingles and replace when necessary.
2. Clear out gutters: Prevent blockages, such as leaves and other debris that could force water into the home.
3. Install a backwater valve: These valves close automatically if the sewer backs up and can prevent thousands of dollars in damage.
4. Scope out the sump pump: If the basement has one, examine it and conduct a test run if it doesn’t get used frequently.
5. Divert snow away from the home: Ensure that snow is removed from around the home, its foundation, doors and basement windows.
6. Check the foundation: As ice melts, clear any pooling water away from the home.
7. Ensure window wells are debris-free: Clear any accumulated garbage or leaves to allow water to drain properly.
8. Ensure street catch basins are not blocked: These prevent snow from building up on the street level, protecting water from seeping towards the property.
9. Protect valuables: Consider moving valuables away from high-risk areas, such as the basement, or place items on high shelves or risers, especially in homes prone to water damage.
10. Start right: When finishing a basement, seal the exterior walls.