Insurance Bureau of Canada urges British Columbians to protect their homes from severe weather

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VANCOUVER, Dec. 23 2008 – With lots of snow on and around homes, and a thaw and rain on the way in some areas of the province, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is reminding homeowners in British Columbia to take precautions against snow build-up and overland flooding.

“The recent cold weather and snow accumulation is uncommon for many parts of British Columbia,” said Lindsay Olson, Vice-President, B.C., Saskatchewan and Manitoba, IBC. “Before celebrating the holidays, homeowners should take the time to make sure the unusual weather won’t put their properties in danger.”

IBC offers these tips, to minimize the risk of overland flooding, if the weather in your area warms up:

  • Shovel snow away from the house, especially basement windows;
  • Check your property for obstructions that could prevent melting snow from draining away from the house properly, and clear a path for the water;
  • Check catch basins on the street to ensure they are not obstructed.

Olson also urged homeowners to move valuable items located in their basements to higher ground to prevent water damage if there is a thaw.

She said: “It’s important to take preventative action at a time like this because damage caused by overland flooding is not covered by home insurance policies. Sewer back-up coverage, however, is usually available and can be purchased as an add-on to policies.”

IBC offers these tips, to minimize the risk of burst pipes due to freezing while you are out, if the weather in your area stays cold:

  • If you will be out for more than four days, arrange for a friend or family member to come by daily to make sure the heat is on, or
  • Shut off the water supply and drain all pipes, sinks and toilets before you leave.

Homeowners’ insurance typically covers damage from a burst pipe due to freezing within a heated portion of your home, but only if you’ve taken the above precautions.

IBC reminds consumers that damages due to a roof collapse caused by an accumulation of snow and ice is covered by most comprehensive home insurance policies. IBC recommends that you do not try to clear snow from the roof yourself. Leave this task to a snow removal professional that has the proper equipment and appropriate liability insurance.

Consumers are urged to contact their insurance representative to confirm their coverage. For more information, homeowners can also call the Insurance Bureau of Canada Consumer Information Centre at 604-684-3635, extension 222 or toll-free at 1-877-772-3777, extension 222.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada

Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, car and business insurers. Its member companies represent nearly 95% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. The P&C insurance industry employs over 108,000 Canadians, pays more than $6 billion in taxes to the federal and provincial governments, and has a total premium base of $36 billion.

To view news releases and information, visit the media section of IBC’s website at www.ibc.ca