Water damage: what every homeowner should know

There’s nothing as relaxing as water, but in the wrong place, it can turn your home into a disaster zone.

A leaky roof or a flooded basement can send your stress levels sky high. There’s anxiety about the damage, and when it’s serious, the hassle of finding somewhere else to stay. No two ways about it, water damage is no joke.

Weather Patterns

Nowadays, water damage accounts for close to half of all home insurance claims.1 The culprit is extreme weather events: heavier rainfall and snowfall, more frequent ice storms, and deep freezes followed by quick thaws. They all take a toll on our homes.

Very often, heavy rainfall can overload the municipal sewer systems and cause sewer backups. Or water can pool around a house and seep in through the foundation.

If water damage happens to you, call your insurance company first, even before calling a damage clean-up company. Most insurers have a 24-hour emergency service, and they can give you the advice you need to see you through a very stressful situation.

Why should you call your insurer first?

  • Your insurer has the experience and knowledge to tell you what to do right away to secure the premises.
  • Your insurer will direct you to qualified professionals who can cleanup. Insurers have their own commercial partners, selected on the quality and speed of their service. You don’t have to choose the supplier your insurer recommends, but it’s to your advantage. You’ll avoid unpleasant surprises, such as higher cleaning fees, which can take a big chunk out of the insurance amount available for repairs.

What to do in case of water damage

  • Turn off the main shut-off valve, if you haven’t already.
  • Remove and mop up as much water as possible, ideally within the first 24 hours.
  • Clean up the water with a wet/dry vacuum cleaner.
  • Use a dehumidifier (commonly used in basements) and air out the room with an electric fan.
  • Don’t overheat the room. Keep it at a normal temperature for the time of year.
  • Wipe off wet surfaces and dry out fabrics.
  • Remove wet cushions from couches and armchairs and stand them on end so they can dry evenly.
  • Sponge-dry wet carpets and rugs with clean, white towels to avoid colour transfer.
  • Move furniture and other items to a dry area or raise them up on Styrofoam blocks or panels.
  • Take photos of the damage.
  • Save invoices and supporting documents of your expenses.
  • If possible, don’t throw out damaged items right away. If they pose a health hazard, put them outside.

Work estimate

When you get a supplier’s work estimate, read it through carefully. Make sure you understand all the steps and that it includes: the employees’ hourly rate, the estimated number of days to complete the work, any extra products or services (e.g., ventilators, furniture storage) and the costs.

If possible, ask your insurer for advice before signing an agreement with a supplier.

References:


Other topics of interest:

  1. Water Damage Risk and Canadian Property Insurance Pricing, Research Paper of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries.

The Personal refers to The Personal General Insurance Inc. in Quebec and The Personal Insurance Company in all other provinces and territories of Canada.

The information provided is meant to be illustrative only and does not constitute or replace the advice of experts. The Personal assumes no liability with regards to how such information is used