Insurance for water that enters through your basement walls or floors
While damage from a burst pipe or broken toilet is covered under most standard home insurance policies, you need a special endorsement to be protected against water that enters your house through the walls or floors of your basement called groundwater insurance.
Groundwater insurance can be added to your policy as part of a water damage endorsement along with sewer backup and overland flood (also known as overland water) coverage, or it can be purchased on its own.
Note that many insurers do not offer groundwater insurance. If you’re unsure whether you have this coverage – or whether it’s available to add to your policy – give us a call at 1-800-731-2228.
What does ground water insurance cover?
Groundwater insurance covers damage caused when water gets into your house through cracks or pores in the concrete of the home’s foundation. This most often happens:
- During the spring thaw
- During periods of heavy rain, when the ground becomes saturated
Current building codes require your basement to be waterproofed when the home is built, but waterproofing measures are seldom perfect, and cracks can develop in the concrete over time.
If you can see water stains coming down your basement walls, that usually means the problem is groundwater. Like any insurance, groundwater coverage only applies if the damage was sudden and not easily predictable.
Like any insurance coverage, ground water coverage only applies if the damage was sudden and not easily predictable.
- If one day you notice water stains on your concrete walls, but don’t take action to fix the problem, and over a period of time water builds up and causes damage to your stuff, that’s not covered, because the damage was gradual.
- If you have a groundwater claim, it is your responsibility to get your foundation fixed. If you have multiple claims of the same kind, you could find it difficult to get insurance.
Your groundwater coverage will pay to fix any damage caused by the water. However, it won’t pay to fix the foundation, which is considered maintenance and is the homeowner’s responsibility.
Is my home at risk?
The fact is any home can be at risk for damage from groundwater getting into the basement. The level of risk depends on a number of factors:
- Is your home in a low-lying area? If so, these are the areas where the soil is most likely to become saturated during the spring thaw or periods of heavy rain.
- Is your property graded properly? Building codes require lots to be graded such that the ground slopes away from the home, helping to drain water away. If the grading is wrong, you are at risk.
- Do you clean your eavestroughs and downspouts regularly? Eavestroughs are designed to divert rainwater away from your home. If they are clogged, you are at greater risk.
- Are there visible cracks in your foundation? Moisture can get in regardless, but a crack that hasn’t been properly sealed can allow a greater amount of water to get in more quickly.
- Do you have a finished basement? This doesn’t increase the chances of water getting in, but it does boost the likelihood that water will lead to damage and a claim.
How to prevent ground water damage
If any of the above apply to your home, you should speak to your Mitch home insurance expert about whether groundwater insurance is available to you.
You should also take steps to address the underlying problems. If your home is in a low-lying area, you can’t change that, but here are some things you can do:
- Ensure your property is properly graded to drain water away from your home
- Keep your eavestroughs and downspouts clear
- If there are visible cracks in your basement walls or if you see moisture on the walls or floors, contact a contractor to ensure your basement is properly sealed.
Know your options
Water insurance for your home is not a simple thing. There are a number of coverages, and they are bundled in various ways by different insurance companies. We can help assess your risk for different types of water claims and find you the right combination of coverage and pricing to meet your unique needs. Give us a call today.
Why you should consider service line coverage
Some water claims can be the result of tree roots damaging the section of pipe or drain between your house and the curb. Groundwater insurance will cover damage to your home if this water gets in, but it won’t pay to fix the pipe or drain. The city is responsible for the pipes that run under the road, but not those under your property. For often less than $100 a year, most insurers will add service line coverage that protects plumbing, electrical and other buried wires that connect your home to city infrastructure.
Want to learn more about service line coverage? Call us at 1-800-731-2228.
Good to know: Common questions about groundwater insurance
Is groundwater coverage usually included in a home insurance policy?
No, it’s not. Some insurance companies don’t offer this coverage at all, and others don’t offer it in areas prone to flooding. At Mitch, we always include this coverage in your quote when it’s available.
How much is groundwater coverage in Ontario?
Insurers that offer this coverage as part of a home insurance policy don’t add a surcharge to the policy. If the coverage is available to you, there is no additional cost.
What are the different types of coverage for water damage?
The following water damage coverage is standard in any home insurance policy:
- Water that comes from a burst pipe in the house (unless it burst because it froze)
- Water that escapes suddenly from a water container like a toilet, bathtub, waterbed, dishwasher or pool
- Water that enters the house because of another event that is covered, like if a tree falls and damages your roof, and then rainwater gets in
- Water that gets into the attic because ice buildup on your roof doesn’t allow it to drain properly (this is called ice damming)
- Water from a public water main that bursts
The following coverages are not standard, and where available, need to be added by endorsement:
- Sewer backup – Water that enters the house through toilets, sinks, etc.
- Overland flood – Water that enters the house through windows and doors
- Groundwater – Water that seeps in through basement floors and walls
You can learn more about water damage insurance in Ontario here.