A record setting amount of more than $190 million in water damage claims were paid out in 2013 by insurance company Aviva Canada. This is a 69 per cent increase from 2012.

Water damage was the leading cause of property claims in 2013. Credit: Andrew Smith.

After the worst year for water damage claims in Canadian history, Aviva Canada Inc., states that, even if the 2013 flooding in Alberta and Toronto were removed from the calculation, water damage would have still made up 40 per cent of all property claims sent to their company.

“With last year’s storms, water damage reached an all time high, making up 51 per cent of all Aviva Canada property claims,” states Wayne Ross, vice president of property claims for Aviva Canada. “The flooding in Alberta and Toronto certainly played a big part in the increase, but the general trend is upward. And as severe weather events are growing in frequency, we expect to see more situations like this in the future.”

Data also shows that in 2013 the average cost of a water damage claim rose to $20,537, a 130 per cent increase versus the $8,944 that the company experienced 10 years earlier. Even without including flooding disasters, the figures have trended higher for a number of years.

“The reasons for the upward trend are rather simple,” Ross says. “The increasing investment Canadians are putting into their basements, combined with more frequent severe weather events and an aging sewer system that is unable to deal with large amounts of water within a short time period, results in a lot of homes experiencing damage.”

Aviva Canada suggests many Canadians are unaware that overland flooding, such as water swells from nearby rivers or lakes, are not covered under standard home insurance policies and that this coverage is not widely available. Canadians are encouraged to reach out to their insurance broker to make sure they know what will be covered in the case of water damage.

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Aviva Canada offers ten tips to help Canadians protect their homes from water damage:

  1. Inspect your roof: To prevent leaks, get the roof inspected every few years to check the condition of the shingles and replace when necessary.
  2. Clear out gutters: Prevent blockages, such as leaves and other debris that could force water into your home.
  3. Install a backwater valve: These valves close automatically if the sewer backs up and can prevent thousands of dollars in damage.
  4. Scope out your sump pump: If your basement has one, examine it and conduct a test run if it doesn’t get used frequently.
  5. Slope right: Ensure that soil, walkways, and patios slope away from the home to allow for proper drainage.
  6. Check your foundation: As ice melts, if you notice water pooling in certain areas, clear it away from your home.
  7. Ensure your window wells are debris-free: Clear any accumulated garbage or leaves to allow water to drain properly.
  8. Ensure street catch basins are not blocked: These prevent snow from building up on the street level, protecting water from seeping toward your property.
  9. Protect your valuables: If your home is prone to water damage, consider moving valuables away from high-risk areas such as the basement, or place items on high shelves or risers.
  10. Start right: If you are finishing your basement, make sure to seal your exterior walls. —Kristen Curtis

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