How to Make a Successful Water Leak Insurance Claim in Canada

By Arthur Dubois | Published on 22 Aug 2023


Water leaks can cause significant damage to your home, but if you have the right home insurance, it should cover you for any repairs or replacements you need. This guide explores how to claim water leak insurance in Canada successfully.

Understanding Your Water Leak Insurance Coverage

Before we delve into the process, it’s best to understand precisely what water leak insurance is and why it’s an essential aspect of your home insurance policy.

Water leak insurance is a type of coverage that protects against damages caused by water leaks. Most standard home insurance policies in Canada include water damage coverage, but the exact details can vary. Generally, the water must be sudden and accidental, such as a washing machine overflowing.

The policy will pay for repairs, cleanup and damage to the contents of your home if your claim is approved. It may not pay to repair the source of the damage. If, for example, the water damage occurred because a damaged appliance overflowed, insurance will usually not pay to replace the machine.

For example, damage caused by ‘sudden and accidental’ water releases, like a burst pipe, is often covered. On the other hand, damage from slow leaks that have been ongoing for an extended period might not be. Suppose your basement slowly takes on water over weeks due to a minor crack in your foundation. In that case, your insurer might deny your claim because they consider the damage to have resulted from neglect or lack of maintenance rather than an abrupt, unforeseeable incident.

Natural disasters can also complicate things. Flood damage, which can arise from external sources like overflowing rivers, heavy rain, or melting snow, is typically not covered in standard home insurance policies. Instead, you would usually need to purchase additional flood insurance or an endorsement for that kind of coverage.

Sewer backups are another tricky area. If a municipal sewer line backs up into your home, your standard policy may not cover the resulting damage. Many insurers require homeowners to buy a separate sewer backup endorsement for this event.

Region-specific events can also be an issue. You might face unique water damage risks depending on where you live in Canada. For instance, those living near coastal areas might need to be wary of tidal surges and saltwater intrusion.

The cost to repair water damage can be extensive, from replacing soaked carpets and furniture to the more substantial expense of remediating mould or rebuilding parts of a structurally compromised home. Given these potentially high costs, it’s crucial to be well-informed about what your insurance does and does not cover.

Reviewing your policy is a great way to ensure you have the right coverage for possible water damage. You can also comparison shop home insurance policies online to compare features and prices from different insurance companies.

Identifying and Documenting Water Leaks

Water leaks can be a homeowner’s worst nightmare. They can cause extensive damage to your property and lead to costly repairs. That’s why it’s crucial to identify and document leaks effectively. Doing so minimizes any potential damage and increases your chance of making a successful water leak insurance claim.

Coverage for water damage depends on the source. If it is a slow leak or seepage, it is unlikely your insurance company will cover it. However, your insurer may cover the claim if the leak was not due to carelessness or negligence and wasn’t readily visible.

Common Signs of Water Leaks

Knowing how to spot the signs of a water leak is essential in catching the problem early on. Here are some common signs to look out for:

  1. Increases in your water bill: If you live in a province where water is not free and notice a sudden and unexplained increase in your water bill, it could be a sign of a hidden leak. Monitor your water usage and bills to detect any unusual spikes.
  2. Sounds of running water or dripping when all is turned off: If you hear the sound of running or dripping water when all the taps and appliances are turned off, it’s a clear indication of a leak somewhere in your plumbing system. Pay attention to this sign, as it could lead to significant damage if left unattended.
  3. Musty odours or discoloration on walls, ceilings, or floors: Water leaks often result in dampness, leading to musty odours and discoloration on various surfaces. Pay attention to any unusual smells or changes in the appearance of your walls, ceilings, or floors, as they could be signs of a hidden leak.
  4. Water pooling around appliances or fixtures: If you notice water pooling around your appliances or fixtures, such as sinks, toilets, or washing machines, it indicates a leak.  Immediately addressing this issue can prevent further damage.
  5. Swelling: If you notice parts of your floor or drywall swelling, it could be a sign of water damage.
  6. Mould: Mould growth can be a sign of seepage or a leak.

How to Document Water Leaks for Insurance Claims

Thorough documentation is vital when it comes to filing a successful water leak insurance claim. Here are some essential steps to follow:

  1. Take photos of the leak source and all damages caused by it: Visual evidence is crucial when filing an insurance claim. Take clear and detailed photos of the leak source and any damages it has caused. This will help support your claim and provide proof of the extent of the damage.
  2. Keep all repair invoices or estimates obtained: It’s essential to keep a record of all the repair invoices or estimates you receive. This documentation will help demonstrate the costs of fixing the leak and restoring your property.
  3. Document all conversations with your insurance company and repair services: Keep a log of all your conversations with your insurance company and any repair services involved. Note down the date, time, and details of each conversation. Keeping detailed records will ensure that you have a clear description of all communication related to your claim.

Following these steps and thoroughly documenting the water leak can increase the chances of a successful insurance claim. Prompt action and attention to detail are crucial when dealing with water leaks to minimize damage and ensure a smooth claims process.

Steps to File a Water Leak Insurance Claim

Dealing with a water leak can be a stressful situation. Not only do you have to worry about the damage it causes to your property, but you also have to navigate the process of filing an insurance claim. Understanding the steps involved can help smooth the process and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Contact Your Home Insurance Company

As soon as you suspect a leak, it is crucial to contact your insurance company. Time is of the essence when it comes to water damage, as delays can lead to further complications and increased costs. Keep note of all the details you give them and any advice they provide.

When contacting your insurance company, it is vital to have all the necessary information readily available. Ensure you know your insurance policy number, the date and time you noticed the leak, and what damage you observed. Providing accurate and detailed information will help expedite the claims process.

Notify any affected third party, such as a neighbour or condo syndicate

When living in close proximity, such as in condo buildings or terraced homes, a water leak in your dwelling can spill over (literally and figuratively) to your neighbours. Notifying any third parties affected by the water leak enables their insurance providers to communicate directly with yours, streamlining the process of determining liability and compensation. 

If the water leak originated from your property, you might be liable for damages to third parties’ properties. Their insurance providers will assess the damage and then may seek compensation from your insurer.

You should immediately notify your condo syndicate if you live in a condo. The condo syndicate often has a master policy that covers damages in shared areas, and they need to be in the loop to determine if and how this policy comes into play. This master policy may be activated to handle repairs in common areas and subsequently might pursue a claim against your insurance for reimbursement.

Filling Out the Necessary Forms

After contacting your insurance company, they will provide you with a claims form. The claims form is an essential part of the claims process, and you must fill it out carefully and honestly. Take the time to carefully read through the form and provide as much detail as possible.

In addition to the claims form, you must gather and send the evidence you collected during the previous step. This might include photographs of the damage, receipts or invoices for repairs, and any other relevant documents. The more supporting evidence you provide, the stronger your claim will be.

Working with Insurance Adjusters

Upon receiving your claim, your insurance company will likely send an adjuster to inspect the damages. This step is crucial, as the adjuster will assess the extent of the damage and determine the amount of compensation you are eligible to receive. During this inspection, it is essential to be present and provide any clarification or extra information as needed.

During the inspection, the adjuster will carefully examine the affected areas and may ask you questions about the incident. It is essential to be cooperative and provide accurate information. If you have any additional evidence or documentation, you may have missed during the initial filing, this is the time to present it to the adjuster.

Remember that the adjuster’s role is to evaluate the damages and ensure the claim is valid. If you disagree with their assessment, you can provide additional evidence or seek a second opinion. Remember to remain calm and professional throughout the process to maintain a positive relationship with your insurance company.

Remember that in most cases, the insurer must approve the quotes and contracts for repairs. If there is an emergency that you must attend to immediately, be sure to save all your receipts and invoices detailing the work that was done. 

The time to settle a water damage claim can vary but still take some time. In Quebec, insurers must settle the claim within 60 days. They may pay you directly or pay your contractors. To begin the work, the insurer may also provide half your settlement, less your deductible. They’ll pay the balance when the work is complete.

The Bottom Line

Filing a water leak insurance claim may seem overwhelming, but following these steps and providing thorough documentation can increase the chances of a successful claim. Remember to keep copies of all communication with your insurance company and stay proactive throughout the process. Staying organized and persistent allows you to navigate the claims process effectively and restore your property to its pre-damaged condition.

Arthur Dubois is a personal finance writer at Hardbacon. Since relocating to Canada, he has successfully built his credit score from scratch and begun investing in the stock market. In addition to his work at Hardbacon, Arthur has contributed to Metro newspaper and several other publications