Canadian Underwriter

Paid Simple ways to help customers avoid water-related losses

April 1, 2021   by Economical Mutual Insurance Company

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According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, catastrophic losses add up to around $2 billion every year, most of which is due to water damage. Shawn Little, Director of Technical Property and Catastrophe at Economical Insurance says that the one recurring theme his team sees among claimants is the regret of not having taken the right steps to prepare before a severe weather event occurs.

Licensed insurance brokers are uniquely positioned to proactively support their neighbours and clients in protecting their homes against severe weather, potentially minimizing the severity of claims, or even preventing certain claims altogether. A simple conversation or a tip shared on social media could mean the difference between a minor headache and an unwelcome swimming pool in the basement.

“There are many simple and cost-free steps that homeowners can add to their regular maintenance schedule to limit some of the negative effects of catastrophic events,” says Little. “Keeping nearby storm sewer grates clear of yard waste, leaves, garbage, ice, and snow, for example, can go a long way to prevent the worst outcomes in the event of flooding.”

Brokers can also advise customers to seal cracks in their home’s foundation, avoid pouring grease and other fats down the drain, keep eavestroughs and downspouts clear, purchase a backup power supply for their sump pump, and use creative landscaping to encourage water to run away from their home. Small changes in behaviour can make a big difference when it comes to preventing or mitigating water damage in the event of a severe weather event, or even just during the spring thaw.

Equally important is helping customers avoid the dreaded realization that they aren’t in fact covered for the types of damage they think they are — two of the main culprits being overland water and sewer backup. While these optional coverages are becoming more and more common, they are often taken for granted. Brokers can remind customers to review their property policies and consider purchasing these coverages if they qualify.

Insurers have a role to play in educating customers, too. Since 2013, Economical has partnered with the Canadian Red Cross to make sure Canadians are prepared when disasters strike. This partnership has allowed the Red Cross to host hundreds of personal emergency preparedness sessions to help ensure a safer future for thousands in communities across the country. And when it comes to helping brokers educate their customers, Little says, “Economical wants to make it as easy as possible. We have more than 250 blog posts on our website for brokers to share, about everything from draining your home’s pipes to how to know if you have flood coverage.”

Insurance, in a nutshell, is planning for the worst and hoping that it never happens. When clear skies are in the forecast, cleaning downspouts and reviewing insurance policies are undoubtedly far from top of mind for customers — but insurance professionals know all too well that, when it comes to water ending up where it shouldn’t, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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