Home insurance 101: Overland water coverage
Woman reading about overland water coverage
Never heard of overland water coverage? We’re not surprised if you haven’t, since it’s still fairly new to Canadians. After the disastrous floods that took place in Alberta and Toronto in 2013, insurers realized they needed to help homeowners, landlords and tenants protect themselves from the impact of flood damage. And it’s a good thing they did – water is now the number one cause of home insurance claims in Canada, accounting for around 48%.1 But how can you make sure you’re properly covered? We’re here to answer your top questions when it comes to overland water coverage.

What is overland water coverage?

Overland water is an optional coverage. This means it’s not automatically included in home insurance policies. Depending on the provider, it typically covers loss or damage to your home and/or personal belongings caused by fresh water coming in through your windows and doors at ground level. Fresh water comes from rivers or lakes, or it could be the result of heavy rain, spring run-off or melting snow or ice.

Did you know? In conversation, we often use the term “flood” to talk about general water damage in our homes. But, in the insurance world, the term flood refers specifically to damage caused not by fresh water, but by coastal water (saltwater), tsunamis, waves and tidal waves. This type of damage isn’t covered under home policies.

Do I need overland water coverage if I live in a condo or apartment, or on the higher floor of a building?

Let’s say you live in a high-rise condo or apartment and the lower part of your building is badly damaged – so much so that you need to relocate. In this case, overland water coverage would help cover extra living expenses, like if you needed to stay at a hotel and eat out for a few weeks. It’s also something to think about if you have items stored on a lower level. Any items stored in a basement locker that are damaged by this type of flooding would only be protected by overland water coverage.

I’m just renting. Do I need overland water coverage?

We highly recommend it. Why? Well, this answer’s sort of the same as the last question. If you’re renting a unit in a high rise, you’ll need it to protect any items in basement storage and to cover extra living expenses if you couldn’t stay at your place during repairs. If you live in a basement apartment, it’s also well worth it since you’d risk damaging all your belongings if overland water comes into your home. If you’re renting a whole house with a furnished basement, you’ll want to protect that, too.

Did you know? Because of recent weather events, Canadian renters are quickly realizing the value in covering their stuff. In fact, around 65% of tenants in Ontario, Alberta, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and P.E.I. now have insurance!

Can I have overland water coverage without sewer backup coverage?

Generally, no. The two coverages go hand in hand. Although many providers allow you to buy sewer backup coverage on its own, remember that if sewer backup occurs due to overland water, you won’t be covered. Make sure you’re informed on what causes sewer backup and how to prevent it.

How much does overland water coverage cost?

It depends. This coverage is priced based on the risk of overland water flooding in your area. If you’re in a low-risk area, it will cost less to add this coverage. If you live in a higher-risk zone the likelihood of water-related claims is also higher, so you’ll be paying a bit more. Check if your province is prone to natural disasters to give you a better idea how much your overland water coverage could cost.

Does overland water coverage have a deductible?

This can vary depending on the insurance provider. For some insurers, overland water coverage may have its own deductible which is separate from your policy’s overall deductible. With other insurers, overland water coverage has the same deductible as your policy’s overall deductible.

Why wouldn’t an insurance company offer me overland water coverage?

Although overland water coverage is offered to most Canadians, if you live in an area that’s at extreme risk of overland flooding you might not be eligible. If you have a few too many past overland water claims, you might also be ineligible.

Whether you live in a flood-prone area or not, adding overland water coverage is worth considering to make sure your home and your contents are covered. If you’re unsure about what you’re covered for, review your policy. And most importantly, make sure you and your home are prepared against spring flooding if it does happen.

Protect your home and the things you love most. Water damage is probably the biggest threat to your home. Are you protected?