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To claim or not to claim: Torrential Rains Sweep the Montreal Region Causing Massive Sewer Back Up & Water Damage

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Water Damage claims poured  following a flash rain storm which caused chaos in the streets and homes in the Montreal Area. The West Island and South Shore regions were the hardest hit as people had to wade through water on what are normally clear streets. Cars drove through rivers, and low lying areas were hit hard as masses of water poured down the hills in areas like lower Westmount.

Aviva Canada issued an announcement advising that they had called in their Catastrophe teams to respond as people discovered their basements flooded as the result of the afternoon downpour.

When do you make a claim?

In cases like this, it makes sense to call in your insurance company and get a professional point of view on the state of your home. Water damage is a serious issue. Many people avoid making claims because they don't want to lose their claims free discounts. If you called me and asked me if you should make a claim on something small, I would always make sure to counsel you on the potential increase you would suffer as the result of a lost claims free discount. If you've already had claims, you might want to consider whether your claim would create a frequency issue. Loss of claims free discounts can often mean seeing an increase of 10-25% over the next 5 years. Frequencies of claims can cause insurers to add surcharges to your policy, and in cases of repeat incidents of the same kind, may result in restricted policy coverages, and in extreme cases, non-renewal. However, when it comes to water damage the risks are too great to take your chances and handle the job yourself. Water damage can be extremely dangerous to your health, as mold can begin to form as early as 48 hours after the water enters your home.

Many of our clients and even employees questioned whether they should make claims on thier home policies, many said they would use a shop vac and try and take care of it themselves... but in all these cases - where water comes into your home and floods an area, you should get a professional opinion. Your insurance advisor is your best bet.

An adjuster can be sent to your home, they will check out the situation, they will remove the existing water and make sure that all precautions are taken to remove risks of mold.

If you removed the water yourself, you can still call the insurer in, they can do an assessment of the damage and in many cases you can work with your broker and you to help you decide based on the damage and costs estimated if you want to take it on yourself, or if you want to proceed with the claim.

A visit by the adjuster to assess the damage should not cause loss of the claims free discount.  Every insurer has different policies on this issue, however most will be reasonable. Make sure to find out your insurer's view on this. 

Note: If they do work like emergency water removal services, it will be considered a claim. In cases like that where there is emergency work needed, they will jump into action - that will be considered a claim.

"I'm not worried about it, I'll fix it myself"

If you are confident you can do the job yourself, and you don't advise your insurer simply because you don't want to make a claim, then months from the incident you discover mold or buckling in the floors, at that point you may no longer be able to claim, and you will be out of pocket for the damages - mold clean up and the demolition required to deal with mold are extremely costly, if you were worried about the 25% loss of the claims free discount, I can guarantee you you will not be happy with the cost of demolition, mold removal and rebuilding.

My recommendation:

This is a major event, if your home was flooded and you've never had a claim before, then this is the kind of thing is what you have your insurance for. At least allow the adjuster to come take a look and the advice you get may just save you thousands of dollars in avoiding long term damage from mold and rot. Your insurance is your resource in this kind of situation use the expertise at your disposal!

Keep your family safe, when you suffer water damage call your broker and ask for their advice and guidance. If the damage is extensive find out what the consequences of the claim would be on your particular policy with your specific information in mind, then make an informed decision.

Water damage is serious and it can create major health risks, and reduce the value of your home. Let your insurance advisor help you make the right decision. Isn't that why you deal with a broker?

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