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Climate change is being felt in British Columbia and around the world, affecting almost every aspect of our lives. Local headlines over the past year are showing that these catastrophic events are becoming more frequent.

Just a few centimetres of water from flooding can cause costly damage to your home.Standard home insurance policies cover some types of water-related damage but often exclude coverage for overland flood water, making dedicated protection a must.

What qualifies as overland flooding?

Understanding what is and what is not considered flooding from an insurance perspective is critical. In general, flood damage occurs when a large amount of water flows over dry land and enters your home.

Overland flooding is defined as flood waters flowing from an outside source or body of water onto dry land, causing water damage. The two most likely causes of overland flooding include snowmelt and rainstorms. Overland flood insurance covers flooding from surface water accumulation as well as from bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers or streams.

Understand overland flood insurance coverage

With overland flood insurance, it is important to understand what is and what is not covered. Overland flood insurance covers damage from freshwater sources. Overland water insurance does not accept claims where flood damage is the result of a saltwater source, such as coastal flooding and tsunamis. Dam breaks are also specifically designated as uncovered occurrences.

Disaster assistance may not be available to you

In May of 2016, the Province of BC posted notification on the Disaster Relief Assistance website that, within two years, claimants should take reasonable steps to have overland flood insurance. Read the full advisory by downloading the Residential Flood Insurance bulletin.

Disaster assistance may not be available to you

While government disaster assistance funding is available to some following massive flooding, it’s not guaranteed. In fact, relying solely on disaster assistance is dangerous for the following reasons:

Disaster assistance is typically only available through the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements program when a disaster is officially declared by the government. Even if a disaster is declared, homeowners still have to meet a number of qualifications to receive aid.

  1. Homeowners who don’t have flood insurance—despite living in an area where it is readily available—may not be eligible for disaster assistance funding at all.
  2. Disaster assistance is often a loan that must be repaid (with interest). This cost is in addition to the mortgage loan that you still owe on the damaged property.
  3. Even if they receive aid, residents may not receive enough compensation to cover their losses.
  4. Not all water damage falls under the category of overland flood insurance.
  5. If your home is flooded and disaster assistance isn’t offered, you’ll have to shoulder damage costs alone.

Do you need a overland water endorsement?

While home insurance policies may offer coverage for water damage from sewer backups or pipe bursts, they commonly exclude losses caused by overland floods.

While newer policies can include some level of flood protection, availability varies. What’s more, even comprehensive home insurance policies (which often offers the best available protection for homeowners) don’t automatically provide broad protections for water damage.

To truly protect your home from floods, you can’t rely on standard home insurance policies alone. Instead, you should to turn to new forms of protection, like overland water endorsements.

Reliance Insurance Agencies has a proprietary HomeProtect insurance program designed for home owners in Metro Vancouver and throughout British Columbia. If you are concerned about your present coverage call us today for your free risk management evaluation and advice about the best home insurance and appropriate endorsements for your type of home and location. Call and ask for one of our personal lines risk advisors 604-255-4616.

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