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Will Toronto Homeowners Insurance Cover a Broken or Damaged Sewer Pipe?

An older house usually has a lot of charm. From creaking stairs to a lovely, established garden, it just feels like home. That is, until it brings about wear and tear due to old age. Add to that Totonto's snow turning to ice, and ice transitioning into water, overwhelming your sewers, and you may just end up with water damage - that is, after all, the cause of 40% of all home insurance claims.

Broken or damaged sewer pipes, flood damage, leaky basements and sewer backup are all causes of water damage.
Thankfully, many of these issues are covered by homeowner's insurance. In most cases, most homeowners are covered for damage, provided your pipes weren't frozen. It is your responsibility to ensure you don't get frozen pipes.

It is important to remember that every policy has its own set of regulations, but most insurance companies will contribute to some of the costs involved in repairing faulty electrical wiring and plumbing. There are close to 200 insurance companies selling policies in Toronto, so it's important to ensure that you're adequately covered. Since homeowner's insurance is not as strictly regulated as auto insurance, policies differ and may not provide full cover for some types of damage in the home. With some insurers, certain issues are covered, whereas other insurance companies add them as an optional extra.

Insurance Only Applies When the Homeowner Does His Part

Insurance companies place full responsibility for home maintenance on policyholders, and just because one has a policy, does not allow them the freedom to abstain from their responsibilities. Home maintenance is a key part of preventing damage, as insurance assessors can tell when damage was caused by negligence. On that note, it is important to know the following:

1. Foundation cracks are your own problem

Insurance will refuse to pay to clean up seepage caused by cracked foundations that lead to seepage and flooding. It's a maintenance issue, and responsibility lies at your doorstep, literally.

2. Ensure you have sewer back-up cover

If your home is prone to flooding, make sure you have sewer backup coverage over and above your basic homeowner's insurance. Read the fine print and know what you're covered for and also, check your basement sump pump on a regular basis.

3. Know your stuff

As a homeowner, you must know what type of insurance you have. There are different types, namely named-perils, basic, all-perils and comprehensive insurance. Check that your all-perils policy protects against flood damage caused by damaged or broken sewers.

Also, know that a comprehensive policy will require that you insure the home for 100% of the replacement cost, not the market value. You should update your policy whenever you make upgrades or do renovations, and review your own copy of the inventory on a regular basis, and also keep a copy off-site, such as on Google Docs.

If you experience a major loss, take a video on your phone of all the damaged rooms and your content. You're obliged to mitigate further risks once damage has occurred, so do what you can to salvage things. In most cases, your insurer will reimburse you for temporary roof patch ups, or for a pump to remove water.

Get in touch with Anta Plumbing for advice on home or business plumbing maintenance, and to assist with emergencies. We deal with many insurance issues every day and we have the experience to advise you.

Written by Tanya Klien

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