The Essential Guide To Protecting Your Waterfront Property From the Hassle and Expense of Water Damage

Protecting Waterfront Property from Water Damage

Extreme weather events are rising in Canada, so the rate of water damage insurance claims is also rapidly increasing. Water damage is one of the biggest threats to the livability and structural stability of any building—and it's easy to understand why waterfront homes are at an increased risk of suffering water damage due to overland flooding and sewer backups.

Waterfront property owners generally consider the risk of water damage well worth it in exchange for the stunning views, easy access to swimming, boating and other water recreation activities, and fresh breezes that sweep in off the water. You can enjoy your waterfront property without stress or worry as long as you take the time to ensure you are protecting your home from the possibility of water damage and protecting yourself from the cost of water damage restoration if a destructive flooding event occurs.

Make Sure You Have the Right Water Damage Insurance Coverage

As careful as you may be about taking all necessary steps to prevent water damage, sometimes it happens in a way you never saw coming, or there's a situation that simply couldn't have been prevented. Your house—along with your belongings inside—suffers severe water damage.

Once the damage has been done to your waterfront property, you can only get started on the time-consuming, onerous process of water damage restoration, not to mention repairing or replacing any destroyed belongings. Aside from the hassle of dealing with water damage, it's important to note that the process can be extremely costly. That's why having the right water damage endorsements in place on your home insurance or condo insurance policy is crucial.

Homeowners insurance usually includes basic coverage for water damage, which applies to damage caused by unexpected water inside a home. The typical causes are burst plumbing pipes, overflowing appliances such as dishwashers or washing machines, broken water heater tanks, and even popped water beds. But those types of incidents certainly aren't specific to waterfront properties. When considering the insurance coverage necessary to protect your waterfront home, you should look at two other common types of insurance endorsements that are not included in a standard homeowners insurance policy: overland water coverage and sewer backup coverage.

Overland Water Coverage

Every homeowner should have overland water coverage because every home is at some level of risk for overland flooding—but there's no doubt that risk is increased for waterfront properties from increased water levels, making it even more critically crucial for waterfront owners to make sure they have sufficient overland water coverage on their property insurance policies.

Overland water coverage applies to damage from freshwater flooding caused by a sudden accumulation of water on the ground. The water could be from any body of water, including a beautiful lake or river rising suddenly, heavy rainfall, spring runoff or melting ice and snow that is deposited suddenly enough or in a large enough volume that it travels across the ground rather than soaking into the soil right away. It's important to note that overland water coverage only applies to damage caused by fresh water. It does not apply to coastal flooding that may cause saltwater to enter your home, should your property be in a coastal floodplain area.

With an endorsement for overland water coverage on your home insurance policy, you can expect to receive insurance compensation for handling damage to your property or belongings caused by the above factors up to the coverage limits listed on your policy. Depending on the terms of your unique policy, you can also recoup the cost of additional living expenses, such as a hotel bill, if your house is rendered uninhabitable until the restoration process is complete.

Sewer Backup Coverage

Because waterfront properties are at an increased risk of damage due to overland flooding, that means they also have an increased risk of a potential sewer backup. That's because excessive water in the soil and on top of the ground can get into cracks and gaps in buried sewage lines and force wastewater back up and out of the low-lying fixtures in a house, including floor drains, showers, bathtubs and toilets.

Homeowners are sometimes surprised to learn that sewer backups are not covered under basic coverage on a home insurance policy, but it's true. No one wants to think about the possibility that they could suddenly deal with a disgusting, unsanitary flood of raw sewage and wastewater spilling across the floor. Still, it's better to think about it and take steps to protect yourself from the major expense of cleaning up after a sewage backup before it ever occurs.

Sewer backup coverage on your home insurance policy will prompt your insurance provider to furnish you with the necessary funds to restore damaged parts of the building and replace damaged belongings up to the coverage limits on your policy. Like overland water coverage, you may also get funds to cover additional living expenses during restoration based on your written policy.

Prevent Water Damage From Occurring

Suppose water damage happens to your waterfront property, of course. In that case, you will want the right insurance coverage to ensure you can repair the damage without suffering a major financial setback. But as crucial as proper insurance coverage is, it's even better if you can stop the damage from occurring in the first place and avoid having to make an insurance claim—not to mention the huge, stress-inducing hassle of taking care of water damage restoration.

Inspect Your Home Regularly

One of the best preventative tools you have when it comes to avoiding water damage to your waterfront property is your own two eyes. Once or twice per year, it's a good idea to check the exterior and interior of the house as thoroughly as possible for potential problems that could let water into the house or signs that it has already gotten in and needs to be stopped.

That includes checking exterior components such as the roof, siding, window and door frames, vents and other places on the outer shell of the house that could be compromised or are showing signs of erosion damage. It also includes being aware of interior indications of water damage, such as rotting window frames or floorboards, stained or softened drywall, and the sound of running or dripping water coming from behind the wall. You may not be willing or able to climb outside your house looking for possible weak points. Still, you can hire an experienced professional who knows exactly what to look for and can provide a detailed report of potential trouble areas.

Install Preventative Measures

Some specific devices and measures are well worth the time and modest expense needed to install them. Preventative measures such as backwater valves, basement window barriers, rain barrels and sump pumps aren't always completely infallible. There are situations where the volume of water is too much for them to handle. Still, the vast majority of the time, they really can make a big difference in whether or not your property suffers water damage and your household suffers a major disruption. If you already have preventative measures such as a sump pump in place, remember that the pump and the sump pit both need the occasional maintenance and check-up from a qualified plumber to ensure they're in great condition and ready to do their job properly when the moment arrives.

Maintain Rain Gutters

Your house probably already has rain gutters installed. Still, you may not realize just how crucial they are to prevent water damage, not only from unusually heavy rainfall but just from regular rain that occurs over the course of a year. Eavestroughs tend to be overlooked and ignored, but you'll never forget to clean them again once you understand just how much they do for you and your house.

Every year, tens of thousands of gallons of water fall on your roof. All that water streams into your gutters, where it's supposed to flow into a downspout and through a water runoff away from the house where it can't cause damage. But suppose the eavestroughs are in poor condition with holes, cracks, gaps and missing sections, or they're clogged with debris such as pine needles and dead leaves. In that case, all that water spills over the edge and drips (or streams) down the home's exterior instead, causing some major issues ranging from a leaking roof to a cracked foundation and damaging everything else on its way down.

Invest in Drain Cleaning and Maintenance

Sewer backups are a homeowner's worst nightmare, and calling a plumber once per year to deliver drain cleaning services and confirm that your drain lines are in good condition is one of the best ways to ensure the nightmare never becomes a reality. Plumbers can use hydro jetting for preventative cleaning, which involves blasting away debris and clog-causing buildup from the inside drainage lines with high-pressure water jets.

Plant or Maintain Woody Vegetation Near Shoreline To Protect Your Property From Erosion

Finally, you may be tempted to clear woody vegetation away from the shoreline, leaving behind an ample empty space that enhances the view of your body of water from your house and gives you somewhere to stretch out on a towel and soak up the sun. The problem with that is encouraging the growth of native vegetation such as trees and shrubs is one of the best ways to prevent shoreline soil erosion. Lack of vegetation can lead to overland flooding and cause your shoreline to disappear entirely over time until you eventually have the water lapping at your door. Consider maintaining the existing vegetation and its deep roots rather than removing it, or even planting some if there's none currently there and shoreline soil erosion is a concern in your area.

Call Your Morison Insurance Broker to Find Out More

Do you need more information about the right insurance coverages to protect yourself from the high water damage restoration costs at your waterfront property? Call 1-800-463-8074 to speak with the friendly brokers at Morison Insurance and get the information you need to ensure the right water damage insurance coverage properly protects you.

This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.

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