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Flood insurance 101

While most comprehensive home insurance policies will cover things like a pipe bursting or one of your appliances leaking and damaging your home, protection against flooding is not included.

When it comes to water damage vs flood insurance, providers make a distinction. In the insurance world, water damage refers to things like pipes bursting, or a leak in the house. On the other hand, flooding is term used to describe those incidents in nature when rivers, lakes, or other bodies of water crest over their boundaries and onto dry land. For protection from that, you will need to purchase extra coverage. It is variously referred to as overland flooding insurance or simply flood insurance.

It is a type of coverage that is especially important to consider purchasing in an era of climate change when Canadians are experiencing more extreme weather events. For example, in 2021, British Columbia experienced the largest flood in its history. The Insurance Bureau of Canada estimates insured damage at more than $450 million, making it the costliest severe weather event ever in that province.

As these events become increasingly common, it is important that homeowners have flood insurance coverage, and, that they understand what protection is and is not included in the policy. Without adequate coverage homeowners can end up in a difficult position if disaster strikes.

 

Tips on how to get the cheapest flood insurance quote

Getting insurance for your home is easier than it may seem. To secure the lowest rate possible, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada recommends following these steps when shopping for home insurance.

Compare home insurance quotes from various providers. You can add endorsements for flooding while getting a quote online.

Ask your broker or agent about bundling your home and car insurance policies.

Ask your broker or agent about which discounts you qualify for.

You might be able to further reduce your by increasing your deductible (the amount you pay toward a claim before your insurance kicks in) and by offering to pay your insurance bill annually instead of monthly.

Increasing your deductible is a great way to save on home insurance in the short term, just make sure you have money reserved for this purpose.

Focusing on finding cheap quotes isn’t always a good idea. Having the right amount of coverage — now that should always be the goal.

At LowestRates.ca, we’re confident we can help you find the best coverage at the lowest rate. We’ve helped Canadians save millions of dollars on their insurance costs. Check out our some of our reviews for high risk home insurance to get a sense of how we can help you save.

Factors that determine flood insurance rates.

Your home insurance policy will be customized to suit your needs and the property you are insuring.

Home insurance premiums are determined by dwelling type (is it a single-detached home, a house with a basement tenant suite, or a condo?). Insurance companies also try to predict the kind and size of claim you might make in the future.

Here are some of the criteria insurance companies look at when calculating your premium.

  • The square footage of your home.
  • Contents and quality of construction.
  • The location of your home.
  • Distance to a fire hydrant.
  • Your insurance claims history.
  • The age of your roof.
  • Your home’s plumbing.
  • Your home’s electrical system.

Use our free, online tool for a quick and easy comparison of quotes for high risk home insurance.

What does flood insurance cover?

If you are wondering what is covered by flood insurance, start by clarifying the different types of flood insurance available for purchase.

Over and above what is included in a comprehensive policy there are two additional flood insurance categories in Canada:

Remember that homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage in the typical sense. Homeowners insurance will cover damage caused by plumbing, leaks in pipes, malfunctioning taps, or hot water tank issues. But, if an extreme rainfall causes rivers of water to run down the street and into your basement or a sewer backs up, neither is a peril that is covered by the average home insurance policy.

Frequently Asked Questions about flood insurance

Who needs flood insurance?

We recommend that every homeowner seriously consider adding flood protection to their policy. This is even more important if you live in an area that prone to flooding.

In 2016, the Insurance Bureau of Canada created flood maps that allow insurance companies to assess the risk. According to these maps, some 20% of Canadian households could be considered high risk. However, these flood maps are not necessarily kept up to date, so many homeowners find it challenging to determine if their home is in a flood zone.

Due to how damaging water can be – and that it does not take that much water damage for extensive parts of a home to be a complete write-off – overland flooding insurance in Canada is a worthwhile additional coverage.

Ultimately, it comes down to how much risk you can tolerate, and our ability to stay financially afloat if you opt not to add flood protection to your policy. Many people want to be safe, rather than sorry, and therefore opt for flood insurance.

How much is flood insurance?

The Insurance Bureau of Canada estimates that most Canadians can purchase overland flooding insurance for $100-$300 a year. If you live in an area that is at increased risk of flooding, the premium could jump to $500-$1000 a year, the IBC says.

Premiums can also change depending on how often insurers are having to pay out claims — the more they pay out, the more likely premiums could climb.

To gauge how much you will pay, we recommend that you compare quotes from dozens of insurance providers. You can do so using our online quote tool. It takes less than three minutes and is free.

In general, the quotes you receive will be influenced by a range of factors. Location is one of the most significant. For example, if your house is on a flood plain, your insurance is likely to be more expensive. In some instances, coverage could be denied. If you are in a city that has subpar sewer infrastructure, you may also end up paying more. Your proximity to bodies of water is also considered.

Which are the best companies for flood insurance?

We will connect you with quotes from a range of companies to help you figure that out. The key is in finding an insurance provider that offers the best coverage for your specific circumstance, at the lowest rate.

Be aware that if you are purchasing a home that is in a high-risk zone, it is possible that a mortgage lender will make flood coverage a requirement.

How do you get reasonable premiums on flood insurance?

Shop around for homeowners insurance for flood damage. We will help you source the quotes, for free

In addition to location, other factors that impact the premium you will receive include the location and age of your home, its state of repair and the size of your deductible.

To bring down the cost, you will want to reflect to a provider that you have taken steps to guard against damage caused by water.

Some helpful tactics include:

  • Backwater valve – Attach a backwater valve to your sewer line. It directs water in one direction, away from your home. Some municipalities offer subsidies to help offset the expense.
  • Clear snow and debris – Make sure no materials are preventing water from properly draining from your property. Similarly clear snow and debris so that it’s at least one meter from the foundation of your home.
  • Landscape with plants – Cultivate natural drainage on your property by landscaping with plants and grasses. Neighbourhoods dominated by cement often have drainage issues because the water is not easily absorbed into the ground.
  • Mind your drains – Avoid pouring grease or other fats down the drain. They can harden and cause water to back up.
  • Prevent damage to valuable property – Avoid keeping valuable items in the basement, which naturally is the area that is going to be most at risk if there is a sewer back-up or some other large flooding event. Try to gauge where the flood levels would be in your house and place large appliances above those.

What other factors contribute to flood insurance rates?

Insurance companies make money through premiums and investments. If they are paying out record-breaking claims, at a higher volume in a low interest rate environment when their investments are not delivering as significant a return, premiums are likely to increase.

Since auto insurance premiums are tightly regulated by the Canadian government, home insurance premiums tend to be adjusted more often.

To keep your premiums as low as possible, mitigating flood risk is key. If possible, try to avoid owning property in an area that is vulnerable to flooding. If that’s no longer possible, take steps to protect your home by installing a backflow valve, landscaping with native plants to prevent soil erosion and keeping the property clear of debris.

Recognizing the frequency and severity of flood-related disasters across Canada, the government says it is looking at the possibility of a low-cost flood insurance program along with a program that relocates people who are living in communities prone to recurring flooding. In 2020, it struck up a task force to consider the options.

In the meantime, the cost-risk analysis falls to individual homeowners who must decide how best to protect themselves against the possibility of flood damage.

How can LowestRates.ca help find the best rate for flood insurance?

Start with our free, online quote tool to get the best coverage for the lowest rate.

You will have the option to connect with a broker to review the details of the coverage and make sure that you are comfortable the specific details of the flood protection you are adding to your home insurance policy.

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*Shoppers who obtained a property quote on LowestRates.ca from January to December 2021 saved an average of 31%. The average savings percentage represents the difference between the shoppers’ average lowest quoted premium and the average of the second and third lowest quoted premiums generated by LowestRates.ca. Excludes tenant and condo insurance.