Manitobans urged to prepare for flood season

Heavy rainfall predicted

Manitobans urged to prepare for flood season

Catastrophe & Flood

By Jonalyn Cueto

Manitoba residents face the looming threat of the 2024 flood season as the snow melts in spring, with forecasts predicting heavy rainfall.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) and the Insurance Brokers Association of Manitoba (IBAM) have shared guidance to help Manitobans safeguard their properties against the anticipated water surge.

Experts recommended several preventative measures to minimize potential water damage. Homeowners are advised to keep both indoor floor drains and outdoor storm sewer grates clear and install backwater valves to thwart sewage backup.

Regular maintenance of downspouts to ensure they direct water away from the foundation and the relocation of valuables from basements to elevated areas are critical steps.

Additionally, ensuring sump pumps are operational with a reliable backup power source, having the property checked if absent for extended periods, and refraining from driving on flooded roads are emphasized for safety.

Among the shared tips are limiting household water use during peak rainfall, capturing excess rainwater with barrels, and preparing homes with sandbags or flood barriers for imminent flooding. Elevating appliances and securing them against water intrusion is also advised.

“Flooding and related sewer backup damage is costly for homeowners, businesses, and municipalities,” said Aaron Sutherland, vice president for Pacific and Western, IBC. “However, there are steps you can take to help mitigate the risk of water damage to your home and property.”

Understanding insurance coverage and limitations

The IBC has stressed the importance of homeowners understanding what their insurance policy covers. Sewer backup and overland flood damages, for instance, require specific, optional coverage, which may not be available in known flood plains.

Groundwater infiltration is similarly covered under optional flood insurance, while coastal flooding and storm surges typically fall outside standard policy protections. Wind damage is usually covered, including scenarios involving flying debris and water entry through compromised structures.

Additional living expenses may be provided under certain conditions for homeowners displaced due to damage. Vehicle owners are reminded that comprehensive or all-perils coverage, which is not mandatory, is necessary for wind damage claims.

The onset of spring is also an opportune moment for Manitobans to update or create a home inventory, which aids in the accurate filing of potential insurance claims. Compiling a detailed list, supplemented with photographs, receipts, and warranties, not only facilitates claim processing but also verifies ownership and helps in assessing the replacement costs of lost or damaged items.

“As we’ve seen many times before, flooding events in Manitoba can be costly, stressful and can often occur with little warning. It’s important to be prepared and talk to your insurance broker about your coverage options,” said Grant Wainikka, CEO of IBAM.

The IBC and IBAM said they continue to work with federal and provincial governments to bolster community resilience against climate-induced catastrophes.

The IBC earlier reported that severe weather incidents in 2023 inflicted over $3.1 billion in insured damages across Canada.

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