Broker reports nearly 200% spike in frozen pipe claims

Homeowners urged to take precautions amid dropping temperatures

Broker reports nearly 200% spike in frozen pipe claims

Catastrophe & Flood

By Mika Pangilinan

Square One Insurance Services has reported a surge in home insurance claims due to frozen pipes, stating that it had seen a 191% increase in the early days of 2024 compared to the same period last year.

In its recent release, the BC-headquartered broker urged homeowners to safeguard their homes against the risks posed by freezing pipe. It also noted that the cost of repairing damage from a burst pipe averages around $16,000.

“Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen almost three times as many cold-weather-related claims come in compared to the same time last year,” said Wendy McCracken, claims manager at Square One. “And the majority of them arose from frozen pipes.”

Home insurance policies typically cover damage from frozen, burst pipes under two specific conditions, according to the release. The first is that the damage must occur due to a sudden and unexpected breakage in a heated area of the home.

The second condition involves the homeowner’s absence from the property for an extended period during the usual heating season. Under such circumstances, homeowners are required to either have their home checked daily to maintain heating or completely shut off and drain the pipes.

McCracken noted that the absence of a universal definition for the usual heating season is due to how temperatures vary significantly across Canada.

“Each insurance provider sets the number of days away before the homeowner must take action,” she said. “For example, policies offered by Square One require homeowners away for more than seven days.”

How to prevent damage from frozen pipes

To prevent damage, homeowners are advised to take proactive measures. Suggestions from the BC-based business Clearly Plumbing include insulating exposed water lines, disconnecting garden hoses, and implementing the following steps:

  • Identify and close the main water shut-off valve in case of a burst or leaking pipe
  • Install heat tape on at-risk pipes for electronic warming
  • Seal gaps, allowing cold air into the home

Homeowners are also advised to maintain a minimum temperature of 16 °C inside the house by closing garage doors and opening cabinet doors in kitchens and bathrooms to distribute warmth.

“You want the heat to radiate throughout the house and keep everything warmer,” said Vince Singh of Clearly Plumbing. “Once the cold gets in, that’s when it starts attacking the plumbing.”

Monitoring water flow from taps can alert homeowners to potential freezing, according to Singh.

He also recommended regular checks on the home during extended absences and installing a leak detection system to mitigate potential flooding.

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