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Jamieson-Hilts Insurance Brokers Ltd.
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Exceeding your expectations since 1865.
Exceeding your expectations since 1865.

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We’re finally having some amazing summer weather – but with the heat and humidity come the inevitable summer thunderstorms. As we’ve already seen, some of those storms can become severe – and damage from wind and rain can be nasty. Here is a list of some of the most common property losses we see – and ways that you as a homeowner can prepare and prevent losses from getting the best of you.

Wet Basements
When it comes to water in your basement, seepage - the slow escape of water through holes or cracks in your foundation, or through a window casing – isn’t typically covered by home insurance. This is considered a maintenance issue. To prevent these types of losses, we recommend regular inspection of your basement walls for cracks and ensure any caulking around windows and doors is in good shape. Also, check gutters and downspouts to see they’re clear and working properly, so water can move away from your home and not end up creating problems.
Also - say a storm dumps so much water that municipal infrastructure can’t handle the volume of water, and it ends up gurgling up through a floor drain and flooding your basement. That’s sewer back up – and it’s essential you have sewer back-up coverage. In addition to ensuring you have sewer backup coverage - you should have a sump pump in your basement and regularly check that it’s functioning properly. If possible have a generator as well, so, if a serious storm knocks the power out, the sump pump will still work.

Fallen Trees and branches
What happens if a tree on your property gets blown over and lands on your neighbor’s property, causing damage to his or her home or car, or even worse, to the homeowner themselves? It can create a complicated set of circumstances, as it involves a third-party liability claim. If the tree was in good shape, you likely won’t be liable if it tips over, because technically there’s nothing you could have done to prevent it. On the other hand, if it was a dead tree or it had a dead branch and you didn’t attend to that, there could be some exposure on your policy. Damage would be covered under the personal liability portion of your policy, which is typically around a $1-$2 million limit in coverage and protects you against damage you caused to other people or property. Even if this type of loss is covered, it would still count as a claim with your insurer, which could raise your premium. A tree could look healthy but there could be some rot inside which isn’t always apparent - so keep an eye on things, and, if you see signs that a tree’s not in good shape, take corrective action to prevent problems down the road.

Shingles and Roof Damage
If a nasty wind storm tears holes in your roof or strips shingles away, your insurance company will help you fix the damage, but how well the roof has been maintained will be a factor in the amount of coverage your insurance company may provide. Insurance companies will often take into account the depreciation (age) of the roof. In short, they may pay for some of the cost of putting the new roof on, but they won’t always pay for all of it. Keep in mind that a homeowner policy is not a maintenance policy; you can’t just wait and say, ‘I hope I get a windstorm because I need a new roof.’ The purpose of the policy is to put you back in the same condition you were in prior to the loss happening. As always, regularly monitor your roof to see that it’s in good shape. Check all openings to see they’re sealed properly, and look for signs of water damage on ceilings or walls. If you shingles are starting to lift, curl or turn up, it’s likely a sign that you need to consider a new roof. A roof that has a 25-year guarantee, means that after 25 years, it’s guaranteed to leak - so you should always take steps to make sure you prevent this from happening.

Fences
What if your fence blows over in a storm and it needs to be replaced? Most insurance companies will consider the fence an extension of your home and should cover the replacement cost. With that being said, once again, maintenance is key here. The same rules which apply to the roof or the basement, apply to fences as well. For coverage to apply, it should be in good shape.

The major thing to understand about home insurance: A policy can provide peace of mind when a storm rolls in, but it doesn’t absolve the homeowner of his or her duties. There are responsibilities in any home insurance policy to maintain that home, so if you’re not maintaining your home and damage happens, there’s a much greater chance of that coverage may be compromised or denied all together.

- source The Toronto Star
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