If Disaster Strikes Your Home: Will You Be Protected?

Recent images of devastating floods, tornadoes and fires, along with warnings by Environment Canada of the potential for severe summer weather, might have you wondering what protection there is for your home in the event of a natural disaster.

Did you know that overland flooding is not covered by home insurance? Government assistance can be there to assist communities decimated by flooding, but it seldom covers the full replacement value of personal property. The Insurance Bureau of Canada, a national association representing private home, car and business insurers, says that homeowners need to be prepared to protect their homes in the event of overland flooding. 

Home inspection is a routine part of the home buying process, but it is also important to research the immediate area around a home for environmental factors that might pose risks for property damage.

Understand Your Home Insurance Policy

There are general rules governing whether or not damage caused by natural disasters such as fires, tornadoes, hail storms, earthquakes and floods is insurable; but, according to Canadian-Lawyers.ca, homeowners need to thoroughly understand what individual insurance policies will and will not cover.

Research Land and Environmental Reports

There are various sources of geotechnical and environmental information published online or filed with municipal, provincial and federal government departments. 

For example, Environment Canada publishes a list of Provincial flood damage reduction programs* designed to mitigate development in flood-prone regions of Canada. The list includes land zones deemed to be at risk.

Geotechnical reports evaluate slope stability and potential water erosion and are generally performed as part of the development application process. Before buying that hillside home, find out if there are any documented slope-stability or water erosion issues that could potentially put you and your property at risk. 

In a neighbourhood on the edge of a forest fire hot spot, ask if there is a municipal fire suppression plan in place and if measures have been taken to minimize fire encroachment on homes.

Before entering into the buying process for a home or vacation getaway in an unfamiliar area of the province or country, learn about environmental and seasonal weather risks in that region. Advance knowledge will help you to make a quick decision when the right home arrives on the market. As well, what you learn now could help you to protect and adequately insure your investment should the unthinkable occur.

While we can try our best to protect our homes, there are times when we're just no match for Mother Nature. Our sincere sympathies go out to our fellow Canadians whose homes have been lost or damaged in recent floods and forest fires.   

*If direct link does not open in your browser, flood information can be found in the Water>Water Quantity section of the Environment Canada website.
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