Flood insurance in BC: what you need to know

Homes threatened in Fraser Valley & Kamloops

As water levels continue to rise on the Fraser River on Thursday, and with more rain predicted for the weekend, communities in the Fraser Valley, Hope, and Kamloops areas brace themselves for potential flooding.  On many homeowners’ minds is the question: “Does my house insurance cover me for flood damage claims?”

The answer is no.  Flood and other flood-related damage is a common exclusion in almost every home insurance policy.  This exclusion also applies in other types of residential (condo, townhouses, tenants) policies.

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, flood insurance is unavailable to homeowners in BC because it would not be cost effective. Generally, only those who live in high risk areas are willing to pay for flood insurance, which means that insurance premiums would be extremely costly for homeowners. Flood insurance would only be feasible for insurers if more people were willing to pay for it, thus smoothing out the mix of high and low risk policy holders, making it a more viable product for insurance providers.

Insurance for flood damage is, however, available for commercial properties, including residential strata buildings. (However, the personal contents of homeowners or renters are generally not covered by insurance.)  Flood damage insurance deductibles for commercial properties typically start at $10,000.

Canadian government flood grants in BC

Those impacted by a flood may apply to the province for Disaster Financial Assistance (DFA) for losses which could not be insured.  DFA program details and contact information can be obtained at the Emergency Management BC website:  Disaster Financial Assistance

The Canadian government may offer flood grants for businesses in BC, although they are not typically offered every year. The Canadian government generally offers grants related to a specific natural disaster in the year following the disaster. So, if there was a major flood in BC then the grants would usually be offered in the year following the flood. To take advantage of the grants being offered right now, contact the Centre for Small Business Financing. The Centre can provide you with more information regarding flood grants from the Canadian government. To get started, call the Centre at 1-866-682-7580 or visit their website.

Source: Centre for Small Business Financing

Protecting you and your home against flood damage

As the damage caused to a home from flooding can be devastating, it is important that homeowners and tenants take the necessary precautions and actions to minimize the impact of flooding to their homes.  Here is a checklist, provided by Emergency Management BC

Before a flood

  • Know if you live in a flood-risk area.
  • Prepare emergency kits for your home and car.
  • Have an emergency plan that every household member knows.
  • Keep important documents in watertight containers.
  • Ensure your car has a full tank of gas.
  • Have a plan in place in case you need to move pets and livestock.
  • Watch for warning signs: increase in height and intensity of water flows, mudslides, debris in creeks, colour changes in water or leaning trees.

Flood-proof your home

  • Build sandbag dikes — dig a trench one sack deep and two sacks wide, laying sacs in alternating crisscross directions.
  • Move appliances above anticipated flood level.
  • Secure and anchor propane tanks.
  • Stabilize your oil tank and weigh it down with sandbags.
  • Turn off utilities at main switches or valves and unplug electrical items.
  • Shut off the gas valve at the meter.
  • Move pesticides, weed killers, fertilizers and anything else that may contaminate water to a higher level.
  • Plug all basement sewer connections; plug toilet, sink and shower drains.

When leaving your home

  • Make sure everyone has warm clothing and waterproof outerwear, including footwear.
  • Make sure everyone has ID, and store personal documents in plastic.
  • Take a supply of any medications needed.
  • Bring items needed to care for infants — diapers, bottles food.
  • Take a battery-powered radio and flashlight.
  • Check road conditions before leaving and take extra care when driving.
  • Do not walk through moving water — even moving water less than 15 centimetres deep can make you fall.
  • Secure your home, ensuring all doors and windows are locked.

For more insurance information or a complimentary quote for your home, strata, business, or condo, please contact us:

Habitat Insurance Agencies Ltd

Tel 604-438-5241

info@habitatinsurance.com

 Copyright 2012 © Grace Catao – Habitat Insurance Agencies Ltd.   All rights reserved. Disclaimer:  This article is designed to provide information for personal use only.  Please consult your professional insurance broker for further professional advice. Grace Catao and Habitat Insurance Agencies Ltd are not responsible for any legal disputes of this matter.