Are you protected if ice and snow damage your home?

With winter comfortably upon us, most Canadians are in, or will be in the midst of snow and sub-zero cold. Freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on a house and cause pipes to freeze and ice damming.

Generally, water is the most common cause of damage in a home and accounts for 50 per cent of home insurance claims costs. Most home insurance policies cover accidental damage resulting from a burst water pipe, a leaking dishwasher or an overflowing bathtub.

A recent Desjardins national online survey conducted in March 2018 polled 3,020 people over the age of 18. Fifty per cent of those surveyed said they didn’t know what type of water damage they were covered for. Yet when asked if their home was ever damaged by water, 26 per cent said yes and almost half (43 per cent) said they didn’t know how to prevent water damage to their home.

Increase in claims

With more frequent and severe weather incidents like heavy rain, lightning storms, hail, freezing-thawing cycles and flooding, there has been an increase in the number of water-related insurance claims across the country.

When asked if they feel weather severity has increased in frequency in the last 10 years, 75 per cent of respondents said they believe that’s true, with 58 per cent indicating they are worried about climate change impacting their personal safety or the safety of their property.

Tech solutions can mitigate damage

The main problems associated with damage caused by snow and ice occur when it builds up in places like the roof, around an in-ground pool or when it creates ice dams.

Some of the proactive things to do to prevent this damage are: Digging out an above-ground pool before it collapses under the weight of snow; clearing snow off the roof after a heavy snowstorm so it doesn’t cave in; breaking up ice dams on the roof to keep water from seeping into the walls.

“As one of Canada’s leading property and casualty insurers, we understand the level of stress people can experience because of water damage,” says Alain Hade, vice-president, marketing and member client experience at Desjardins Insurance.

“Lost or damaged valuables and family treasures cannot be replaced. This is why we focus on innovation to prevent and reduce the frequency and severity of claims.”

Two tech options available from Desjardins are: Alert, a prevention program that comes with a free water and freeze detector and, if the unexpected happens, like a burst pipe or leaking toilet, clients get an alert on their smartphone and can act fast to limit the damage.

Radar sends an alert when there is a risk of severe weather like high winds, ice storm or tornado within 500 metres of your specific addresses. Clients are alerted by push notification via SMS or email as a heads-up that can help them protect their property.

These programs give clients prevention and awareness tools to help limit the damage caused by water and freezing.

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