What!? Am I reading this correctly – a simple fixture that costs about $10, which is available in nearly any hardware store, can save me big time in terms of possible water damage to my home as well as insurance premiums. Sign me up!
Insurance companies are reporting that water damage claims have jumped to the top of the ladder ahead of fire losses in terms of both frequency and severity. Although most of these water damage incidences relate to “ground water” or overland flooding, a significant number of claims are the result of weaknesses within the internal structure of a property – typically caused by burst pipes, fittings and poorly installed drywall, etc.
Internal water damage is often prevalent in condominium buildings as a result of rapid development and mass installation of piping and related fittings (such as sinks and toilets) where the developer/construction company opted for the cheapest available products, according to Taylor Gonneau, project manager at restoration firm Complete Restoration Services Ltd.
“In my experience, the vast majority of water damage stems from water supply lines to toilets … I think we had over 150 claims last year that originated from a faulty water supply to the toilet.
He adds, “In high-rise buildings the most common [water damage] occurrence relates to water backup or water escaping from the HVAC coil units. Because condo buildings are typically put up pretty quickly they don’t have fire separations, so [any water leakage or pressure points] affects multiple dwellings regardless of where the source occurs. I think we had over 150 claims last year that originated from a faulty water supply to the toilet.” Gonneau explains, what happened in the above mentioned condo situation was that the molded plastic retention nut securing the water supply to the toilets had fractured because the incorrect size fitting had been installed which led to too much tension and subsequent fracturing. “In my experience, the vast majority of water damage stems from water supply lines to toilets,” he notes.
A simple fix to prevent water damage in your home
According, to Gonneau there’s a simple fix homeowners and tenants can take which could save them thousands of dollars in direct losses as well as the negative impact of an insurance claim on future premiums. He recommends purchasing a water supply connector with auto shut off valve, such as the FloodSafe or SureDry connectors, which cost as low as $10 in most hardware stores. “It has a ‘backflow switch’ so when there’s an abnormal flow of water it stops it and thus minimizes the amount of water escaping from a rupture,” he comments.
Gonneau also strongly urges homeowners/tenants to replace the typical rubber hose used in most water connections with braided flex line which suffers less wear and splitting. “It’s also important for people to be vigilant in inspecting water lines, especially the nuts that fasten to the water supply line – an acute leak will result in noticeable corrosion on the threading of nuts,” he adds.
Furthermore, homeowners/tenants are not always consciously aware that, in the event of being vacant from the premise for an extended period of time, they should know where the main water supply is located and to turn the water off. “Insureds could face penalties from their insurer if it is found that the water damage resulted from negligence.”
The costs associated with water damage add up quickly
From an insurance perspective, Gonneau’s advice to homeowners/tenants is to be aware of the policy limit relating to water damage. Insurance companies will often set a standard cap on claims of $50,000 to $25,000 which many insureds may believe exceeds the replacement and/or restoration of property they own, and thus opt for a lower policy limit, he notes. “If you have significant water damage, your furnace is gone and your hot water tank is gone – right there is close to $7,000 in replacement. Then you have household contents which may require replacing or restoring, and at the end of the day you find that the policy limit of $50,000 has been eaten up very quickly,” he cautions.
“If you have significant water damage, your furnace is gone and your hot water tank is gone – right there is close to $7,000 in replacement. Then you have household contents which may require replacing or restoring, and at the end of the day you find that the policy limit of $50,000 has been eaten up very quickly,”
When it comes to home insurance coverage limits and deductibles (the portion paid by the insured upfront in terms of a loss), it is crucial that the homeowner/tenant consult their broker, says Alex Gemmiti, a senior broker at Mitch Insurance. Not only can a broker provide coverage advice, but also assist an insured in evaluating a loss relative to the insurance coverage limit and deductible and whether it worthwhile to submit a claim relative to these amounts in place. “Risk assessment and insurance are integral components to any risk management plan, he adds.