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Flood outside home

Overland Water Insurance – Water is Beautiful, Until it Isn’t

Water is one of life’s greatest gifts, but for as much beauty as it can give us, it can transition into a silent destructor in the blink of an eye.  Mother Nature can be a cruel old woman sometimes, and when she storms, it’s generally not pretty.  Our beloved water turns into an unstoppable force that invades homes, destroys personal property and forcefully evicts any unlucky people in its path. Water can quickly wash away the value of your home, and with flood season rapidly approaching it’s important to understand how you can protect your biggest asset.

Most home policy owners make the assumption that they are covered from water damage, yet the unfortunate reality is that insurers provide little to no upfront water coverage. Now this doesn’t mean it’s time to give up and buy a canoe, you do have some further options you can pursue for more protection. Insurers will offer you additional endorsements you can purchase to further enhance the protection of your home from the threat of water. These coverages include; Sewer Backup and the new Overland Water insurance. Both of these coverages are designed to protect your home from water damages and — unless you’re looking for an indoor swimming pool — are certainly worth looking into.

Sewer Backup Coverage

What is sewer coverage Backup (known as SBU for us insurance geeks) is an extension to your regular home, condominium or tenants policy to protect you against the damaging potential of water. The coverage was designed to insure your home against any damage resulting from the escape of water from your sewer system, septic tank, sump pump or eaves-trough. These systems tend to overflow during periods of abnormally heavy rainfall, unleashing a torrent of water that damages your property, leaving a not-so-nice mess behind. Letting your insurer clean up this expensive (and probably smelly) mess seems like a no-brainer and is why McDougall Insurance always recommends SBU to clients.

Overland Water Coverage

While Sewer Backup remains one of the most popular home endorsements (and for good reason), it still has many gaps in coverage where you are fully susceptible to loss, which brings us to the new Overland Water coverage. The Overland Water endorsement serves to fill these gaps by providing coverage against the risk of…. you guessed it…water that enters your home from over the land.

Unfortunately it is not that simple. Most companies are on the same page when it comes to their definition of overland water. However, there are some companies who use a different definition or exclude or have limits on certain components. This is what makes the water coverage so complicated.

The Good News

While SBU protects your home against water from overflowing drains and sewer systems, overland water will protect you from water entering from the land. The coverage serves to protect you from the rapid accumulation of water on the ground surface including; torrential rainfall, flooding freshwater rivers/lakes and overflowing water dams. So, for example, if your local river were to overflow during an intense rainstorm and flood waters entered your home damaging your basement, most of our insurer’s would reimburse you for the full damages! With the changing weather patterns facing Canada, and the catastrophic damage potential of water (as we saw with the 2013 Calgary floods) it’s obvious why obtaining this coverage should be considered when thinking about how to protect your home.

The Bad News

The unfortunate drawback to this endorsement is not everything is covered, and not everyone can get it. The coverage still excludes any damage resulting from Tsunamis or flooding bodies of salt water, admittedly not a major concern for us here in Ontario. But the endorsement also excludes anyone with a home built in a designated flood plain — which unfortunately does represent many Ontarians— as the risk of flooding is too high to provide coverage. So while this coverage may be a saving grace for some, for others you may want to think about some do it yourself flood protection strategies to ensure you’re ready for the worst.

Concluding Thoughts

Your home is likely the largest investment you’ll make in your lifetime, so protecting it should be one of your first priorities. When Mother Nature comes storming, a few sandbags probably won’t do the trick in protecting your best asset. The SBU and Overland Water endorsements can go a long way in protecting you and your property. So talk to a professional brokerage like McDougall Insurance to ensure you have the right coverage for you and your home, giving you the peace of mind you deserve.

Visit McDougall Insurance for a home insurance quote.


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