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How to Protect Yourself from Overland Water Damage

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The newest type of must-consider insurance for homeowners and, in most cases, condo owners and renters, protects against damage caused by “overland water,” which includes sudden accumulation from heavy rain, spring run-off, and overflows from lakes and rivers. People who don’t live close to a river or other body of fresh water are still at risk from water damage caused by rainfall or rainwater.

Overland water coverage was introduced in 2015, partly in response to the devastation caused by catastrophic flooding in Alberta and Ontario in 2013.

Overland water insurance covers damage from fresh water only. Damage caused by salt water, for example, a tsunami or tidal wave, is not insurable at this time.

Three insurance companies that we represent now offer this type of coverage, and we expect others to follow. The coverage includes:

  • Damage caused by breakout or overflow of fresh water or a watercourse.
  • Damage from natural or man-made causes resulting from rainfall or rainwater.
  • Sudden and direct physical loss or damage caused by the backup or escape of water from a sewer, sump, septic tank, eaves trough, downspout, or drain.
  • Sewer back-up insurance is required to purchase overland water coverage, as the two types of damage are so closely related. Many insurance companies offer “limited” sewer back-up coverage on its own, though, without the overland water.

Why This Coverage Matters to You

Water has now surpassed fire as the leading cause of personal property insurance claims. Without appropriate insurance coverage, the costs of the extensive damage that water can cause could be devastating.

Water entering a home from the outside can quickly make its way behind walls and under floors, and could require removal of everything, including drywall and insulation, to ensure proper cleanup of the damage. Left for even a short period of time, water or dampness can cause mold, which is a significant health hazard.

More than likely, you will need to move out of your home while the cleanup and repairs are being done. The right insurance will cover these types of costs and expenses.

Startling Statistics

Here’s why Overland Water Coverage matters:

  • 44% of insurance claims are water damage claims — the Canadian insurance industry pays out $1.7 billion a year for these claims
  • 50% will have repeat claims in two years (because the suspected source of water entering from outside was not the actual or main source; or a failed interior system was not fully replaced)
  • 93% of water damage claims are preventable
  • 12% more rain is now falling across Canada, and we are experiencing an additional 20 days of rain per year, compared to the 1950s
  • Extreme weather events that formerly occurred every 40 years in Canada are now happening every 6 years in some regions


Raul Aliaga

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