Allstate Canada reports sewer backup as leading cause of property damage

“Water is the New Fire”

TORONTO – March 13, 2012 – Water escape is becoming a growing problem for Canadian homeowners. According to data from Allstate Insurance Company of Canada, sewer backup accounts for 39 per cent of water-related claims. Since flooding can lead to extensive and devastating damages to a home and property, Allstate Canada wants to help Canadians prepare for the upcoming spring thaw and the rainfall that comes with the season.

“Water seems to be the new fire as it is now the leading cause of property damage in Canada,” says Karen Benner, spokesperson for Allstate Canada. The Insurance Bureau of Canada estimates losses related to water damage cost insurance companies and Canadian policyholders at least $1.7 billion every year. “Even if your neighbourhood has never experienced problems with basement flooding or sewer backup, your home can still be at risk. Overloaded sewers can back up through household sewer lines and flow into basements or ground level apartments,” says Benner.

Sewer backups can happen during intense rainstorms when aging municipal sanitary and storm sewer infrastructures become overloaded. While there is no flood insurance in Canada that protects against rising water levels outside the home, Allstate Canada recommends that Canadians contact their insurance provider to find out what additions can be made to their basic homeowner’s policy to protect them from sewer backup and other damage. To further reduce the risk of water damage, Allstate Canada suggests that Canadians take the following precautions from goodhandsadvice.ca:

Safeguard your possessions

  • Create a flood file containing information about household possessions and keep it in a secure place, such as a safety deposit box or waterproof container. This file should have a copy of insurance policies and contact information for the insurance agency.
  • Conduct a household inventory. Be sure to keep a list of all major household items and valuables. Keep receipts from major appliances and electronics purchases. These documents are important when filing insurance claims. Allstate Canada provides a homeowner’s checklist at http://bit.ly/AllstateInventory.

Prepare for Water Escape

  • Install a backwater valve to prevent sewage from overloaded sewer lines from getting into the house. As well, connect a sump pump, an electric pump placed in the basement of a home, to pump water from the basement outside, and install a battery-operated backup in case of a power failure. Installing a water alarm will also indicate if water is accumulating in the basement.
  • Disconnect the house’s downspout from the sewer system by extending it 6 feet away from the house. A downspout is a home’s rain-carrying system and is designed to catch rainwater and melting snow from the roof and funnel water away from the foundation. Doing this will help reduce the amount of storm water that is sent through the combined sewers. Less storm water in the system will help prevent wastewater from backing up through sewer pipes where it can escape through floor drains or any other low lying plumbing fixtures in the basement.
  • Don’t use washing machines and dishwashers during rainstorms since they will add more water into an already full sewer system.
  • Raise electrical components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers, and wiring) and appliances at least 12 inches above the home’s projected flood elevation.

Develop an Emergency Plan

  • Have a safety kit on hand with drinking water, canned food, first aid, blankets, a radio and a flashlight. Allstate Canada provides a helpful list of Emergency Preparedness Kit Essentials online at http://bit.ly/AllstateInventory.
  • Plan and practice a flood evacuation route. Have a safe location to stay, such as a loved one’s home or a hotel.

Water escape is a common challenge that many homeowners will face. However, by keeping a home in good repair, moving valuables out of water’s way and creating good drainage around the home, potential water damage can be prevented or reduced. Homeowners should contact their insurance agency to learn more about water damage and their homeowner’s insurance or visit www.allstate.ca.

About Allstate Insurance Company of Canada

Allstate Insurance Company of Canada is one of Canada’s leading producers and distributors of home and auto insurance products. “The Good Hands Network®” enables consumers to contact Allstate Canada through one of 92 community-based Agencies, directly online at www.allstate.ca and through the Customer Contact Centre at 1-800-Allstate . Allstate Canada is committed to making a positive difference in the communities in which it operates and has partnered with organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Canada), Crime Stoppers, United Way and Junior Achievement. In 2010, Allstate Canada, in partnership with the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA), created the Allstate All-Canadians program, a mentorship program designed to guide the next generation of Canada’s hockey youth. Learn more about this program at www.allcanadians.com to learn more about Allstate Canada, visit www.goodhandsadvice.ca or www.allstate.ca.