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Top 3 measures to mitigate home flood risk


September 7, 2018   by Greg Meckbach


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Your book of business could have lower water losses if you give homeowner clients just three pieces of advice.

First, homeowners should figure out whether their home actually has a backwater valve, said Cheryl Evans, director of the home flood protection program at the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, which is based at the University of Waterloo.

After assessing about 450 homes for flood risk, the Intact Centre found that “much of the [water] losses can be prevented by people doing three main things,” Evans said Thursday in an interview.

In addition to checking for a backwater valve – and maintaining it if the home has one – homeowners should also make sure the downspout extends at least six feet from the foundation.

The third measure relates to the sump pump. Homeowners should make sure their sump pumps are actually working and that they have backup batteries, she noted, adding there are “lots of other little things” homeowners can do to reduce flood risk.

In the Toronto area, brokers and claims adjusters can learn more about flood risk by enrolling in a three-month course – Home Flood Risk Assessment Training – which starts Sept. 20, Evans said Thursday. Registration is through the Sir Sandford Fleming College website, though classes will be held at Seneca College’s Newnham campus, on Finch Avenue east of Highway 404 in Toronto.

The course intended to educate home inspectors on flood risk but is also useful for insurance professionals. The course runs Thursday evenings from Sept. 20 through Dec. 20. An online course will roll out nation-wide in 2019.

A “huge part” of the training is to help professionals advise homeowners on insurance coverage.

Many homeowners do not understand what their insurance does and does not cover, said Evans. For example,  “most people don’t know that if you are away from your home without having someone check your home for four days, you don’t get coverage.”

In a separate effort to help educate homeowners, Intact Centre is subsidizing the Toronto Home Resilience Pilot Program, launched this past July.

Participants can have their home inspected and yhe homeowner only has to pay $95 of the $450 cost per inspection. Also subsidizing the program is the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

The pilot program is taking a maximum of 200 participants. Evans said Thursday about 145 homeowners have signed up so far.

Toronto Home Resilience Pilot Program “aims to help home owners secure the insurability of their homes, and to keep their insurance premiums affordable,” Blair Feltmate, head of the Intact Centre, told Canadian Underwriter earlier.