Although not a coastal province, Ontario is no stranger to environmental risk factors. Here’s an overview of some of the province’s biggest environmental perils, the kinds of damage they can do to homes, and whether they’re covered by most home insurance policies.
Water damage has overtaken fire as the primary cause of home insurance claims in Ontario. It occurs when excess rainfall or snowmelt causes freshwater or wastewater sources to fill beyond their normal confines and seep into homes through doors, windows, basements, and vents. The resulting water damage can be extremely costly to repair. Most basic home insurance policies do not cover overland flooding, storm surges, or even backed-up sewers — to protect against these kinds of water risks, additional coverage is usually required.
Regions at highest risk: GTA, Southwestern Ontario
A major concern with Ontario’s cold winters is ice damming. This happens when a layer of ice melts — from attic heat or freeze-thaw weather — allowing water to seep into the house or attic, causing costly damage. Ice damming is sometimes covered under basic home insurance policies, but always ask your provider to be sure. Freezing temperatures can also cause frozen pipes, which are also sometimes covered by basic home insurance policies, providing certain precautions have been taken (e.g. having someone check on your home every 24 hrs if you’re away for an extended period of time during the winter).
Regions at highest risk: Northern Ontario has the harshest winters, but the entire province is at risk
While not common in Ontario, earthquakes do occasionally occur, and the resultant damage can range from non-existent to severe, depending on the magnitude of the earthquake. Most basic home insurance policies will not cover earthquakes; additional coverage is required.
Regions at highest risk: Ottawa area, North Bay
Ontario isn’t known for forest fires, but the province still averages 1000 major burns per year. These aren’t your average house fires — each blaze could engulf the entire Greater Toronto Area. Luckily, most basic home insurance policies list fire as a covered peril.
Regions at highest risk: Northeastern Ontario, Northern Ontario