Do I need flood insurance?
Does my house insurance already cover floods?
“At this point in time, loss or damage caused by overland flooding is still excluded by default under most home insurance policies sold in Canada,” says Tirschler, adding that many Canadians still don’t need it.
For those who do, however, there are more insurers offering it than before.
“Renters insurance policies are no different from homeowners policies in this regard. Most comprehensive renters and condo policies will cover ordinary water damage by default, including things that people commonly refer to as a ‘flood,’ like toilet overflows, but they will not cover overland flooding unless the customer chooses to add that coverage to the policy.”
Still, every provider is different, so Tischer notes that it’s worth shopping around. “Some [companies], like Square One, have built overland flood coverage right into [the] home insurance policy by default, for all eligible customers.”
When you don’t need it
Every home insurance provider creates its own risk maps covering so-called “flood zones” that determine pricing and eligibility. They’re meant to guide decision-making about perceived flood risk, but it’s important to understand that they are arbitrary. An insurer’s decision to call a certain area low-risk does not mean that it is safe from a flood. That said, insurers’ flood maps—along with independent mapping services like FloodSmart Canada—can help homeowners weigh the risks against the cost of purchasing flood insurance.
Additionally, in some cases, the perceived risk of flood is low enough that the individual can feel relatively secure that they’d be able to bear the cost of repairs in a flooding event. (Have a fire pit? You will need to read this.)
When you do need flood insurance
Despite the arbitrary nature of the risk maps provided by insurance companies, they may be the best way to determine if your home is in a high-risk zone for floods because currently, many governmental and ministerial flood maps are unavailable or outdated.
Those in high-risk areas like Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec will likely want to consider flood insurance but, as Tischler notes, different providers have different guidelines. “If you speak to a home insurance provider, and they say you are in a high-risk zone that is not eligible for coverage, keep in mind that this is only one company’s perspective.” There’s that shop-around advice again.