Review insurance policy for sewer backup coverage: Royal & SunAlliance

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TORONTO, Aug. 30, 2006 – One year after the August 2005 storm that flooded homes in the Greater Toronto Area, causing more than $400 million in damage, Royal & SunAlliance is reminding home and business owners to carefully review their policies to ensure they have adequate coverage, particularly sewer backup.

That GTA flood was considered one of the largest insurable losses in Canada in 2005, and reminds people that it’s important to ensure coverage for sewer backup, which is not standard on every insurance policy. In some cases, there are limits on how much coverage the policy entitles you to.

Not having the adequate coverage can be costly: Royal & SunAlliance found that the average cost of a claim was approximately $30,000, compared to about half of that for the 2004 Peterborough flood.

“Sewer backup insurance saved me and my family almost $100,000 when our basement, including my office, was flooded with about a foot of filthy water,” says Stan Herman, a Toronto resident whose basement, including a lot of important client files, was destroyed in the August 19 storm.

“It’s important to make sure that you are adequately covered should your home flood during a storm. And while there’s no way to prevent a flood, there are a number of things that you can do to protect your belongings,” says Irene Bianchi, Vice President of Claims and Corporate Services. “One of the smartest things you can do is install a sump pump in any areas that are below ground level and make sure that it’s in good working order. A sump pump can mean the difference between a little damage and losing your cherished belongings.”

Another important factor to consider when reviewing your policy is the insurance company’s level of support following a claim. It’s also important that your insurance company is there to support you following your claims. Many companies offer claims guarantees, but when you read the fine print, those guarantees don’t apply when you need them the most — during catastrophic events.

“Not all claims guarantees are created equal. Be sure to read the fine print so that you know what to expect of your company following a catastrophic event,” says Bianchi.

For more information about the protection your insurance policy offers, Royal & SunAlliance recommends contacting an insurance broker who can help to explain your current policy and ensure your needs are looked after.

Top 10 ways to protect your family and home:

  1. If you are indoors, move to the upper levels of your home, and bring a battery-operated radio and flashlights.

  2. Turn off electricity and outside gas valve.

  3. If you are outdoors, move to higher ground and avoid flood waters — even 15 cm of fast-moving water can sweep you off your feet.

  4. Don’t stay in your car — according to the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR), as little as 60 cm of water can carry a car away. If it is not safe to leave your car, park at the most elevated point possible. Stay away from electrical wires.

  5. Raise any personal belongings that you have stored in the basement off the floor to prevent water damage.

  6. Through a licensed electrician and in accordance with the local building code, raise the main circuit breaker or fuse box two meters above flood level in your area.

  7. Install backflow valves or a backflow prevention device to prevent sewer backups (check with local building codes for further information).

  8. Install a sump pump if the floors are below ground level and check to make sure the sump pump is operable. A backup sump pump would be beneficial.

  9. Disconnect eaves trough downspouts if connected to weeping tile system.

  10. Ensure proper drainage around your home — consider adding top soil with a minimum gradient of five degrees slope away from your home.

What to do if your home or business has been flooded:

  • Do NOT touch electrical wires, appliances or devices.

  • Separate damaged property from undamaged property, and prepare an
    inventory of what has been lost or damaged.

  • Take photographs of damaged property. If the property is covered, Royal & SunAlliance will reimburse you for the cost of developing the photos.

  • Keep receipts for any clean-up costs incurred (i.e., Shop Vac rentals,
    cleaning supplies, etc.).

  • Your insurance company is there to help. Contact your independent insurance broker or your insurance company to report any damage.

About Royal & SunAlliance
The Royal & SunAlliance Canada group includes Roins Financial Services Limited, Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada, Quebec Assurance Company, Johnson Inc., Western Assurance Company, and Ascentus Insurance Ltd., and is part of Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Group plc. The Royal & SunAlliance Canada group employs more than 2,500 people and is represented by a large network of independent brokers across the country. In 2005, the Canadian Group wrote $1.4 billion in direct premiums, with assets exceeding $4.5 billion.
Internationally, Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Group plc employs about 24,000 people and transacts business in more than 130 countries, with assets of approximately $50 billion.
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