Canadian Underwriter

Basement flooding impacts mental health: study


June 14, 2018   by Staff


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123RF.COM / MARKUS GANNOf all extreme weather events in Canada, flooding is currently the costliest, causing millions of dollars in property damage. Still, the impact of basement flooding on time off work and the mental health of impacted homeowners has barely been explored, until now.

Research from the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, at the University of Waterloo, and funded by Manulife and Intact Financial Corporation, quantified the health impacts to homeowners in Burlington, Ontario, following a major storm in August of 2014 when 3,500 homes were flooded.

Here are the findings.

  • 56% of flooded households with at least one person working took time off work, for an average of seven days per flooded household. This is ten times the Ontario average for non-flooded households.
  • Three years after their home was flooded, 48% of respondents from flooded households were worried when it rained, compared to 3% of respondents from non-flooded households.
  • Within the first 30 days of experiencing a flood, 47% of flooded household members were worried and stressed, compared to 11% of those who had never experienced a flood.

“Being prepared for unexpected expenses allows us to deal with issues as they arise,” says Dr. Georgia Pomaki, Leader, Mental Health Specialists at Manulife. “By strengthening the psychological resiliency of Canadians through programs focused on mental health awareness, prevention, intervention and recovery, we are preparing our clients, their employees, and their families with the tools they need to thrive.”

The researchers say this study indicates that all parties involved – homeowners, businesses and government – must take action now to reduce flood risk. Without action, the mental health impacts profiled in this study will significantly worsen as greater numbers of homeowners across Canada experience residential basement flooding. Homeowners should talk with their insurance provider to understand their coverage, ensure they are financially prepared for emergencies, and take action to reduce their risk around their home.

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This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.