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Water damage

Water damage

Water damage

Water damage has topped the list of home insurance claims in Quebec for several years.  It is therefor important that owners become familiar with what can be done to reduce the risks of water damage and, at the same time, protect their belongings and their homes.

Your Home insurance, without the addition of certain optional coverages (called endorsements), will not cover all the causes of water damage.

Most Home insurance policies cover damage caused by water main breaks (aqueducs) and damage caused by over­flowing indoor sanitary installations (i.e., washing machine that overfl­ows, leaking hot water tank or broken water main).

Optional coverages (endorsements) exist to cover risks such as sewer back-up, water seepage and ­flooding.

Note that insurers may refer to these endorsements  using other terms.

Water Damage – Ground Water and Sewer Coverage:

  • Sudden and accidental seepage of underground or surface water.
  • Sudden and accidental discharge, backing up or overflow from sewer connections.

Water Damage – Above Ground Water Coverage:

  • Sudden and accidental leaking of rain or snow.
  • Sudden and accidental discharge, backing up or overflow of rainwater gutters, eaves troughs or downspouts.

Water Damage – Ground Water, Sewer and Over­flow of a Body of Water Coverage:

The same risks as the Water Damage – Ground Water and Sewer Coverage, in addition to coverage for damage caused by the over­flow of a body of water.

Note that gradual and repeated water damage is never covered.

Examples of loss

Damage caused by a sanitary installation


  • The hose on your dishwasher breaks while it is running.
  • Your bathtub overflows.

Damage caused by a city water main break


The city water main which supplies your home breaks and the water floods your newly renovated basement.

Damage caused by water seepage

A violent thunderstorm hits and water leaks through your roof and ends up in your living room.  COVERED IF… you added the endorsement Water Damage – Above Ground Water Coverage to your home insurance policy.

With spring and the melting snow, water seeped through your home’s foundation walls.  COVERED IF…  you added the endorsement Water Damage – Ground Water and Sewer Coverage to your home insurance policy.

Damage caused by sewer back-up

Heavy rainfall in your neighbourhood and the sewers can’t handle the large quantity of water that hits the ground, with the result that the sewers back up into your basement.  COVERED IF…  you added the endorsement Water Damage – Ground Water and Sewer Coverage to your home insurance policy.

Damage caused by overland ­flooding when a body of water over­flows (i.e., spring fl­ooding)

An ice jam raises the level of the river which your home overlooks. The water rises on to your land and floods your basement.  COVERED IF…  If you added the endorsement Water Damage – Ground Water, Sewer and Over‑flow of a Body of Water.

Damage caused by mildew, condensation, rot, mould, and gradual deterioration


Your roof has reached the end of its useful life and you delayed replacing it. Water seeps in causing mildew and mold on the ceiling and walls inside the home.

Note :  For damages covered, your insurer will compensate you according to the coverage chosen under your policy. He’ll also consider the maximum amount (limit) for reimbursement of certain categories of items.

Prevention tips

Outside the house


Check the condition of your roof regularly. Have it inspected by a professional if it’s more than 20 years old.

Drains, eaves troughs and downspouts

  • Make sure downspout extensions are directed at least 1.8 metres away from your home’s foundation walls.
  • And make sure the water doesn’t flow towards your neighbour’s home. Downspout extensions should be directed away from your house towards the road, backyard, or back lane.
  • Make sure they’re not clogged; for example, clear dead leaves from eavestroughs in the fall.

Door and window caulking

Once a year, check the caulking.

Basement window wells

Inspect them to make sure no water has accumulated.

Outside faucets

In the fall, turn off the water supply and drain garden hoses.

Foundation walls

Once a year, check foundation walls for cracks and seal any immediately.

Inside the house

Water entry point

Make sure everyone who lives in the house knows where the water entry point is located.

Washing machine and dishwasher

Don’t leave the house when they are on. Check the condition of the water hoses.

Hot water tank

Consider replacing it after 10 years; otherwise, inspect it regularly.


Keep you home heated to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting.  (faudrait indiquer la température minimale exemple 17 Celsius même lorsque absent)

Sump pump

Have it checked (annually?) by a plumber to make sure it’s in good working condition.

Mainline backflow valve

The mechanism that prevents water overflow from a municipal sewer from backing up into the basement of your home. The backwater valve closes automatically when sewers back up. Have it checked by a plumber to make sure it’s working properly. (again à quelle fréquence?)

In-pipe check valve 

Mechanism that prevents waste water from backing up into your basement. However, it won’t prevent waste water from backing up into basement sinks, toilets, showers and laundry tubs.

If you’re away from home for several days during the winter

Turn off the water and drain the pipes OR ask someone to keep an eye on your home every day if you’re away for more than seven days, to make sure your heating system is working.

If you don’t, damage caused by pipes freezing is not covered.

What to do following a loss

Call your insurer as soon as possible if you’ve suffered water damage. He’ll ask you to describe the exact circumstances of the loss to establish whether your policy covers the damage. Depending on the type and extent of the insured damage, he’ll tell you what to do.

To avoid making the damage worse or endangering your health, it’s important that you take certain measures quickly:

  • Close gas lines and turn off the power making sure you’re not standing in water.
  • Remove the water that has seeped in immediately to limit the damage and protect belongings that aren’t damaged.
  • Clean the affected areas and items exposed to water
  • Make a list of the items destroyed and take photos or a video to document the loss.
  • Unless they’re a health hazard, don’t throw out damaged items right away. Sort through them, if applicable, outside your home.
  • Keep invoices and vouchers for expenses incurred.

Settling a claim

These stages may vary from disaster to disaster or from insurer to insurer; they’re provided for information purposes only.

  • Emergency repairs are made to stop damage from getting worse.
  • Plans are drawn up to repair and rebuild the damaged premises.
  • A list of damaged and destroyed property is drawn up.
  • Items are cleaned, repaired, or replaced depending on the type and condition (as per the coverage chosen when you purchased your home insurance policy).
  • The rooms of the home are rebuilt.

Jackie Beaudoin, Leclerc Insurance and Financial Services
Source :  Insurance Bureau of Canada