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House covered in snow

Remember Snowtember? The Unforeseen risks to your home

November 30th, 2016 / Events, General, News, Tips /

The old saying goes: “If you don’t like the weather in Calgary, wait a few minutes”. However, a few minutes can seem like a lifetime if your house is being damaged by the unsuspected vandal, Mother Nature.

The great Alberta flood of 2013 is still top of mind when considering personal property risks. The $1.7 billion worth of collective catastrophic damage in our province no doubt leaves a lasting impression. The good news is that the City of Calgary has taken actions to mitigate future floods, such as preventing water entering storm systems, installing temporary sandbags and supplemental pumping.

But what about a more familiar liability – snow? The Calgary Emergency Management Agency lists snowstorms as the second worst disaster fear (overland flooding being the first).

In September of 2014, Calgary had the heaviest snowfall in 130 years. The City of Calgary received more calls during this event, coined ‘Snowtember’, than during the great flood. A large number of trees broke from the weight of the snowfall and houses were suddenly flooded with melting water. This is a risk Calgarians may not automatically consider, despite receiving snow up to 9 months of the year.

How can you protect your property? Firstly, be aware of flood risks:

  • Rain following snow
  • Blocked gutters
  • Excess snow on the roof
  • Cracks in the house foundation
  • Snow piled against the property
  • Warm weather following a blizzard

Here are some helpful tips to avoid a downpour disaster:

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The 5 top reasons why you need Overland Water Insurance

June 14th, 2015 / General /

Flood insurance may not be on your radar, especially if you do not live by a river or lake.  Even so, overland water damage to your home can be caused by a myriad of factors other than rising water levels.  This is especially the case over the past 5 years as weather patterns in Alberta and the rest of Canada have witnessed more rain and snow than ever before.  The rise in overland water damage to homes in Alberta and across Canada have prompted insurance companies to reassess home insurance risks, and introduce to the country, for the first time, fresh water flood insurance.

We’ve outlined the top 5 reasons why you need Overland Water Insurance sooner than later:

  1. Floods are the most costly natural disasters in Canada for property damage.
  2. Floods can occur in every region across Canada: city, urban, country, and can occur at any time of year.
  3. Floods have impacted the lives hundreds of thousands of Canadians.
  4. Water related insured losses from catastrophic events average 1 billion a year since 2009!
  5. Some insurance companies have placed stricter regulations on sewer backup coverage to exclude flooding as the causing factor. Meaning, if you have a sewer back up claim, but it was caused by flooding in the area, your claim can be denied.

For more information on how floodinsurance.ca can help you with Overland Water Insurance, visit our http://floodinsurance.ca/#quote page and an expert broker will contact you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have about water coverage.

 

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How bad were the 2013 floods in Alberta?

April 15th, 2015 / News /

Historian Harry Sanders claims that the very worst flood in Alberta was the Fort Calgary flood of 1879.[i] The second worst (according to Sanders) was at Fort Calgary in 1897. During these floods bridges were torn out, entire buildings were left underwater and about 60 families were relocated. At the same time, homesteaders and ranchers began building on higher ground.

The third worst flood came in 1902; this flood damaged the bridge where the Hillhurst Louise Bridge is currently.

In 1915, the Bow River flood hit Calgary, washing away the Centre Street Bridge. And in Okotoks, the Sheep Creek floods cut gas mains and left people without cooking fuel. Alberta went 14 years without flooding, but then again in 1929 there was widespread flooding when the Bow River, Highwood River and other rivers/creeks overflowed due to extensive rainfall, causing major damage in Calgary and High River.  At the same time, Saint Georges Island was under water and the Calgary Zoo felt the worst damage (they lost several animals.) Several homes in the community of Mission were flooded, while Banff had entire roads washed out.

In 1932 another severe flood hit Alberta again. Calgary was fortunate as flooding was held back by the Glenmore Dam (which had just been built in the early 1930’s!) But between 1932 and 2005, the absence of flooding in Alberta was attributed to meteorological luck. During this period of time, large flood-producing storms went north or south and did not stall over the Bow basin.[ii] A study done by Alberta Environment in 1983, estimated that floods would happen at 70-year intervals.

In Alberta floods of 2005, were named Environment Canada’s top weather event of the year.[iii] One in ten buildings in Calgary reported damage, where southern parts of Alberta reported washed away roads and parks.

Mother Nature had no mercy and again in 2010 a state of emergency was declared in Medicine Hat and other parts of Southern Alberta. Similar to flooding that came before, many homes, crops and livestock were destroyed.

Perhaps the flood that is freshest for most Albertans happened in 2013. Flooding in 2013 devastated the province to a degree never felt before; the provincial government described it as the worst in Alberta’s history. Over 100,000 Albertans were displaced throughout the region with the total damage estimated at $5 billion. Unfortunately some of the displaced also faced devastating blows that came by way of insurance companies refusing to pay out claims. It appeared as though they were wishy-washy on what they would cover; one neighbour on the street completely covered while another three-doors-down would not be. The media broadcasted residents of the hardest hit areas naming and shaming insurance companies, to the point that some later reversed their decisions.

Despite the prediction that floods would occur every 70 years, perhaps the worst is yet to come, at least according to some experts. The most recent flood in 2013 shifted statistics and the annual probability of a particular high flow will rise slightly.[iv]

Dr. Jerry Osborn, Professor Department of Geoscience University of Calgary says, “It wouldn’t hurt to remember that the two largest floods in history occurred 18 years apart. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has called the June flood a “once-in-a-century event,” but that claim is way premature. There’s a lot more century to go.”

[i] *Source CBC – Interview with Harry Sanders on Calgary Eyeopener

[ii] Calgary Herald, Osborn: It’s foolish to think worst flood is behind us.

[iii] Huffington Post, Alberta 2005 Flooding, A look back

[iv] Ibid.

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How can I get fresh water flood insurance?

April 15th, 2015 / From HQ /

Until now, Canadian insurers have never offered fresh water flood insurance for homeowners, arguing that flood coverage wasn’t feasible because of the cost. As Canadian communities face increasingly  extreme weather, the major insurance companies in Canada decided that it was time to offer new coverage choices to protect homeowners, condo owners, and tenants from losses resulting from overland water damage.

A home, condo or tenant’s policy typically cover sewage back-up, but do not cover overland water damage. Many Albertans now understand what can happen when claims are left to an insurance adjuster’s discretion. In 2013, adjusters scrambled to assess and interpret the wordings in individual policies for homeowners affected by the Alberta flooding. In some situations, an adjuster told one homeowner that they were covered under insurance, while their neighbour (who suffered the same losses) wasn’t. This became a black mark on the insurance industry and a delicate subject for those who were not so fortunate during the process.

In February of 2015, Aviva Insurance was the first to announce that they would be introducing a home insurance product that would offer protection to homeowners, condo owners and tenants from costly damage caused by water. Soon after, other major insurance companies such Intact, Pembridge and Wawanesa introduced overland water coverage as well.

To get overland water insurance, simply fill out a form below and one of our experienced brokers will contact you to provide with coverage and price options that best fit your needs.

 

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Is my home at risk for water damage?

April 15th, 2015 / Events /

The climate is changing and we are seeing an increase in precipitation from coast to coast. These changing weather patterns can sometimes result in water damage to your home. Water damage caused by flooding can be expensive and stressful. Flooding in Alberta is primarily caused by:

  • Snow melt
  • Rainfall
  • Ice jams

As we saw in 2013 – saturated ground, snow melts, large amounts of rainfall and wind can be disastrous. Calgary experienced 16 hours of heavy rainfall just before the 2013 floods! In fact, on June 20th, Calgary had a record-breaking rainfall of 45 mm falling in one day. The June floods also evolved quickly because there was still snow in the mountains late in the spring and the ground was frozen. When the rain began, it caused rapid melting and the soil became saturated and could no longer absorb excess moisture. With nowhere to go, the water moved overland and eroded new channels. The Insurance Bureau of Canada stated that the 2013 flooding in Alberta was the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history.

Other common types of water damage:

  • Burst pipes and hot water tanks
  • Sewer back-up and back-up of drainage systems
  • Pipe ruptures (e.g.: dishwasher hose, washing machines etc.)

The areas affected most by flooding and water damage seem to be basements. Here are some common reasons people have water trouble in their homes:

  • Failure of sump pump
  • Failure of hot water heaters
  • Failure of weeping tiles
  • Blocked connection between your home & your main sewer
  • Back-up of waste water in sewer system
  • Overflowing of eaves trough
  • Poor drainage on your lot
  • A leak/crack in your basements foundation

There are measures you can take to help prevent the extent of damage caused by water.

Stay tuned for our next blog on tips for preventing water damage!

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