Insurance Bureau of Canada reminds British Columbians to prepare their homes for severe winter weather

VANCOUVER, Dec. 11, 2009 – With winter on its way, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is reminding homeowners in British Columbia to take precautions to protect their homes from possible severe weather conditions such as snow, rain, ice and wind.

“There are many simple steps homeowners can take to ensure their homes will better withstand winter weather conditions,” said Lindsay Olson, IBC’s Vice-President of British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. “Homeowners should take the time to make sure the weather won’t put their properties in danger.”

IBC offers these tips to minimize the risk of overland flooding after heavy snowfall followed by warm temperatures:

  • 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 that they are not obstructed.
  • After a snowstorm, be sure to shovel snow away from the house, especially from basement windows.
  • Clear fallen leaves from roof gutters, downspouts and drainage systems to reduce the risk of localized flooding and potential property damage.

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

She said, “It’s important to take preventative action because damage caused by overland flooding is not covered by home insurance policies. However, sewer back-up coverage 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 away:

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

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

IBC offers these tips to minimize damages due to windstorms:

  • Prepare your property and, in particular, your trees. Trim the branches from trees near and on your property if they overhang power lines, or if the trees are likely to fall on power lines or your home should a severe wind or ice storm occur.
  • Bring furniture and other outdoor items indoors when a windstorm watch is announced. Anything left outdoors can become a missile in a windstorm.

Policyholders are urged to contact their insurance representatives to confirm their coverage. For more information, homeowners can also call the IBC Consumer Information Centre at 604-684-3635 ext. 222 or toll-free at 1-877-772-3777 ext. 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 110,000 Canadians, pays more than $6 billion in taxes to the federal, provincial and municipal governments, and has a total premium base of $39 billion.