Temperatures are finally starting to rise in the Okanagan and, with the snowpack in the region sitting at more than 140 per cent above its normal levels, the possibility of major flooding is top of many Kelowna residents’ minds.
But as property owners begin prepping pumps and filling sandbags, one man is worried not everyone is aware of their options.
Brett Innis, the manager of Kelowna Valley Insurance, says there’s still a lot of confusion out there about homeowners insurance and flooding, and he’s worried misconceptions could end up costing people this season.
He points out that, traditionally, a homeowner’s insurance policy didn’t cover flooding from rising bodies of water like lakes, rivers, or streams. Even heavy rainfall wasn’t covered.
As of a few years ago, most insurers changed their policies so they don’t even cover sewer backups if they happened within 72 hours of overland flooding.
Today, water claims damage has eclipsed claims for fire and is now the number one cause of personal property claims in Canada.
In 2017 the insurance market changed, as many insurance companies began to offer new, optional “overland water coverage” for owner-occupied residences.
“Now you may be able to acquire coverage against damage from runoff from heavy rains or an overflow of a body of water, including the resulting sewer backup,” Innis says.
How much you have to pay for that add-on, or whether you can even get it, will depend heavily on where your property is located.
The policies also cover additional living expenses based on a percentage of what the house is insured for, but the policyholder must have that specific peril insured against.
Previously, the only relief was what was available from government disaster assistance.
Innis points out that the province’s disaster fund states “an applicant who could reasonably and readily have purchased overland flood insurance would NOT be eligible for DFA.”
“It all depends on risk,” he says, encouraging people to check with their broker if they can acquire coverage for above-ground water damage. Depending on your location, availability and pricing will vary.
“Like any insurance, overland flood insurance is only available for events that are unforeseen and accidental, before disaster strikes,” he adds.
Innis invited anyone who wants to learn more about their risk from flooding, and whether or not they should consider overland water coverage, to give him a call, or visit Kelowna Valley Insurance online
This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Okanagan Edge.
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