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The Real Story on Insurance and Who is Responsible to Pay Flood or Water Damage

If you suddenly find yourself heading down the street in a lifejacket  or find yourself thankful that your local community has boats to perform commuter rescues, you've probably lived through a flood.


After the rain stops pouring, the only thing left to do is cleanup.

Yesterday, Toronto was hit with massive rainfall totaling over 90mm. This exceeds the regular monthly rainfall for Toronto by 20mm!


Last month we saw Alberta struggle with disastrous flooding, and the cleanup is still going on. Right about now, many people are wondering where they can turn to for help, and trying to see who can pay for the damage - it's not always easy to figure out.

Who is Responsible for the Damage?

Before we can answer that question the exact source and reason for the damage has to be determined.

Call your insurance company and report the damage to them.

Even if you aren't sure if you want to make a claim, make them aware and get their advice and feedback first.  This will help you make the best decision for you and understand consequences and benefits. There is no good answer to whether or not you should claim because it depends on many factors, but at the very least by calling your insurer and letting them know you are reaching out to get some guidance and information, it starts you on the right track. Insurance professionals are knowledgeable and are there to help you, you don't need to figure everything out alone.  For my insight on the question of whether or not you should claim, you can check this article here to help you make a decision.

Flood vs. Sewer Back Up vs. Infiltration

Water Damage is not a straight forward coverage. Water can come from many places and stem from many sources.

In today's The Star, they wrote an article with the following question:

"If your basement is flooded during a storm, are you covered for losses caused by water damage?"

Great question, unfortunately, the answer is never straight forward. The article suggests that it would be sewer back up to cover this, but the reason for flooding of a basement is not always a sewer back up, it could be as a result of infiltration, or even actual "flooding".

You may even have damage coming from the roof which is handled differently by various insurers, some call it "above ground water", sewer back up also may cover it, and if it's simply due to rain, and not a backed up drainage system, its your policy form that has to respond.

What do all these different water related terms mean? 

The easy answer will come by a quick phone call to your insurance representative or broker.

Water is a complicated coverage, you do not need to figure it out alone.

Some people might define Flood as being caused by the overflow of a body of water,  in Toronto's storm  are Sewer back up could mean the backing up of a sewer, but lets not forget the overflow of a drainage system. Infiltration could mean water trickling in from a downpour of water - with colossal damages and massive rains like the ones Toronto just had - people throw a lot of terms around.

Every insurance company has different coverages, many of them are optional - which ones do you have? The answer to this question becomes very important during a situation like a massive downpour which causes "flooding".

The cause of the damage is what the insurance company is going to be looking at.


The city of Toronto responded well to the situation online,  posting safety tips and help advice during the rainfall and also by listing how people could make claims through them.

Will the City of  Toronto pay for water damage?

If the reason your property was damaged is as a result of poor maintenance of the city systems , according to this City of Toronto Site, you may meet the criteria to put a claim against the city. Make sure and check this out as an option. Keep in mind processing may take longer wait times, however it's worth investigating.


Finally, we always focus on the damages and losses as we try and protect our home and families.

Prevention Pays - What can you do for the future?

  • The city of Toronto offers up to $3,200 to homeowners who install flood protection devices through its basement flooding protection subsidy program.
  • Some insurance companies, like The Guarantee Company of North America help their clients take preventative measures and offer similar programs where if you install a water detection device, they may help cover the costs and even give you a discount! 

Staying Safe

On a final note, it was nice to see this tweet go out during the chaos reminding us all of the important things in life - helping each other and keeping each other safe.

Wishing all those effected from the storms safety - remember that a little help makes all the difference!

Stay safe!


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*Please note that insurance coverage varies from state to state or province to province, the information in this article and on this site is given to serve as a information to empower consumers, and as a bouncing board to lead to a discussion with a licensed broker or agent that can review your specific needs and explain various coverage options to you. Every insurance company has their own policy wording, in all cases the policy wording will take precedence over any blog discussions or examples. Empower yourself with information, so you know the questions to ask, and take charge of your insurance to save money!


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