Home insurance for overland flooding and water damage is a relatively new policy addition for Canada. This type of coverage protects landowners from water that damages their property through heavy rains, spring thaw, sudden snow melt, or the overflowing of rivers and lakes.
In June 2013, the world witnessed the devastation in Southern Alberta when the Highwood River overflowed its banks and flooded the town of HighRiver, sending all 13,000 residents fleeing to safety. The subsequent floods throughout the southern province were the worst in Alberta’s history, affecting more than 125,000 residents and causing over $5 billion in damages.
Who doesn’t remember these surreal images from downtown Calgary? The Calgary Stampede and Saddledome are submerged in several feet of water in the lower part of the image below.
In the wake of these tragic events, where families lost everything due to water contamination and mold, a further complication awaited homeowners as they realized that their insurance covered them from sewage backup but not from overland flooding. Of the estimated $6 billion in damage, only about $1.7 billion was insured loss, likely from the corporate offices and surrounding buildings in the Calgary downtown core. Most of the additional assistance came from disaster relief grants from the province and the federal government.
Changes to the Home Insurance Industry
Shortly after that, Alberta insurance providers adjusted their coverage, adding overland flooding to their policies for the first time. Some used advanced geographic modeling to predict flood risk, then developed premiums for these areas.
Subsequently, Saskatchewan’s only mandated insurance provider did not provide overland flood coverage, and in July 2016, several communities sustained heavy flood damage when historic rainfall caused severe flooding throughout their communities. Again, all residents were without overland water & flood insurance coverage and had to burden the taxpayers with hundreds of claims to the provincial disaster relief program.
Does your insurance policy cover overland flooding?
Does your water cover include damage from burst water mains, extreme runoff, and overflowing lakes and rivers? If you feel you might be in an area of risk, contact your insurance provider today and have them discuss your policy with them.
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