June 2, 2011 by Canadian Underwriter
Insurers and governments need to increase homeowners’ awareness about sewer backup and insurance coverage, according to a recent paper prepared by the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR).
The paper, Involving Homeowners in Urban Flood Risk Reduction, presents a case study of homeowners’ awareness of sewer backup and insurance.
The case study is based on a May 2009 flooding incident in the Sherwood Forest neighbourhood of London, Ontario. On May 28, 2009, a rainfall event consisting of 83 mm of precipitation over a five-hour period flooded dozens of homes in the neighbourhood.
The ICLR paper includes the result of a survey investigating Sherwood Forest homeowners’ knowledge and behaviour related to urban flood reduction.
Forty-five per cent of the 674 survey respondents said they did not know if they had insurance coverage for sewer backup.
Even respondents who reported sewage flooding (44) or sewage and clean water flooding (8) seemed uncertain about their coverage. Of these 52 respondents, 23% said they didn’t know if they had insurance coverage for sewer backup.
Moreover, one third out of the 674 respondents answered ‘don’t know’ when asked if they had a backwater valve.
“There are opportunities for the City of London to partner with the insurance industry to address several of the abovementioned issues, specifically addressing resident uncertainty about sewer backup insurance coverage and in identifying which residents have experienced sewer backup in the past,” the ICLR report says. “Government-sponsored inspections may also help address homeowner uncertainty about flood reduction measures in their home.
“To increase lot-level flood reduction, the city may choose to implement stronger means of incorporating mitigation measures into homes, including bylaws or policies requiring backwater valves in all new homes. Requiring mitigation in all new homes could also help address uncertainties created by climate change.”