Home Insurance in an Emergency

There are few things worse than coming home to discover your entire basement’s been flooded, but at least you know your home insurance will cover it, right?

Not necessarily, actually, in the case of many insurance policies. While your home insurance is supposed to protect your house from damage, many homeowners often discover too late (typically after disaster has already struck) that they’re going to have to pay for the repairs out of pocket for certain incidents.

Read on to find out more about what incidents are typically covered by your insurance (and which ones require an additional policy). Bear in mind that every insurance policy and provider is different, so please don’t consider this list more than a starting point. For a full and complete understanding of what’s covered and what’s not in your home, check your insurance policy or contact your company directly.

What’s Typically Covered?

Generally speaking, you can expect damage caused by an ‘unpredictable weather event’ to be covered by your insurance. A freak hailstorm, for instance, would likely be covered. However, any pre-existing negligence to your property exacerbated by the hail might not.

Let’s say the tiling on your roof has been falling apart for years and desperately needs replacing. While the hail storm might be the catalyst for the damage to your roof, the insurance company could argue they don’t need to pay for repairs because the tiles were already in a state of disrepair and would have fallen off of their own accord anyhow.

Coverage extends beyond just weather related incidents, though – things like airplane and vehicle damage to your home are also included. The term used by insurance companies for the types of damage covered are called ‘perils’.  

Some examples of other common perils covered by a basic homeowner’s insurance policy include fire, lightning, windstorms, tornado damage, explosions, riots, theft, vandalism and mischief with a malicious intent, damage caused by a falling object, damage caused by the weight of sleet, snow or ice (thought it’s important to note that not all insurance companies consider damage from freezing outside the home a peril), accidental damage caused by an artificial power surge, and the accidental overflow of water from an automatic sprinkler, air conditioning, or heating system as well as flooding/water damage due to a broken water main.

In the case of ice storm damage leading to burst or damaged water pipes, your policy will likely only cover damage if the policyholder lived regularly at the home and did everything to prevent damage in the case of an evacuation (i.e draining the pipes prior to fleeing).

What’s Usually Not Covered?

Damage from earthquakes and (natural) flooding are almost never covered under standard insurance policies and require additional policies. Flooding is considered an expected natural event and is therefore not covered as homeowners would be aware that it was a possibility. Landslides are also not covered as they are considered a predictable event.

Homeowners in areas that are particularly prone to flooding can sometimes choose to opt into extra coverage specifically to cover water damage (those who live in the floodplain, for instance). 

While there are certain zones in Canada that experience more frequent earthquakes, it’s not typically one of the major causes of damage to the home and requires special coverage. It should be noted that there are basic policies that cover secondary damage due to earthquakes (i.e. fires or electrical damage resulting from the initial quakes).

For a more comprehensive list of what you can and can’t expect to be covered by your home insurance, take a look at this list from the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

Again, every policy is different, so consider this a starting point but make sure to do your own research and look over your own policy so you know exactly what’s covered and what isn’t in regards to your own home.