Only 9% of Canadians are aware of their responsibilities in preventing the occurrence of frozen pipes, even though their failure to abide by these obligations can invalidate coverage in the event of a claim, according to a new survey conducted by Square One.
In particular, to avoid this ‘common home insurance condition,’ homeowners who leave the residence for more than a few days – generally between four and seven, depending on the insurance carrier – are expected to turn the water off at its main source and drain all pipes, as well as appoint someone to walk around the home every day to verify that the heat remains in operation.
These steps are necessary because frozen water can rupture pipes, and when that ice melts, its runoff can cause extensive water damage to the home. Any subsequent claims can be denied if the requisite precautions were not pursued, such as what happened with one Ontario couple who did not disengage the water leading to the fire sprinkler system, even though it was prohibited by their building code.
Both because this knowledge gap is so pervasive, and since its net effects can be so fiscally destructive, it is imperative that brokers remind their clients of their insurer’s requirements – particularly ahead of the upcoming snowbird season.
“Insurers don't want to be put in the position of having to deny a claim due to this clause, and obviously such a denial would be pretty devastating to most home owners,” said Jason Vander Zalm, vice president, Square One Insurance Services Inc. “Brokers can play a very important role to make sure this doesn't happen - by ensuring that at the time of purchase their customers are made aware of this clause, and urging them to take appropriate steps if they're going away in the winter.”