Windsor Residents Lose Flood Insurance

With Windsor basements continuing to flood and home owners being shut out of insurance coverage, interim mayor Drew Dilkens continues to advocate spending on sports tourism.Photo by Joanne Brown.

With Windsor basements continuing to flood and home owners being shut out of insurance coverage, interim mayor Drew Dilkens continues to advocate spending on sports tourism.
Photo by Joanne Brown.

(WINDSOR, ON) – It appears the other shoe has dropped for residents suffering flooded basements after two torrential rain storms in 2016 and 2017. Posts on Facebook indicated that insurance companies have eliminated flood protection for some of the victims.

Others are reporting drastic increases in premiums. And others still, who did not suffer any flooding, but who live near areas which were flooded have seen their flood coverage canceled.

The move by the insurance companies was not unexpected. The insurance industry tracks claims using the Habitational Insurance Tracking System. It provides insurers with online access to 98 per cent of all available personal property claims data in Canada.

Supplied by CGI Insurance Information Services, the service includes GEOScore which uses claims data from HITS and demographic information to evaluate losses within a given neighborhood and to assess overall risk in these neighbourhoods.

In other words, the insurance industry is trying to protect itself from future flooding in these neighbourhoods. Windsor’s two major rain sessions in as many years were costly.

Water damage in a basement in the Riverside area of Windsor on 29 August 2017. The homeowners have lived in the house for 47 years, but have experienced flooding three times in only the past five.Photo by Beverley Vansickle Holmes.

Water damage in a basement in the Riverside area of Windsor on 29 August 2017. The homeowners have lived in the house for 47 years, but have experienced flooding three times in only the past five.
Photo by Beverley Vansickle Holmes.

On September 25 last year, the Insurance Bureau of Canada reported the then significant flooding over August 28 and 29 resulted in more than $124 million in insured damage.

“Climate change is causing severe weather events to happen more frequently and with greater intensity, especially storms involving floods. While the insured damage from these floods is significant, the total cost to homeowners and government is not yet known,” said Kim Donaldson at the time.

The IBC vice-president urged, “consumers to know what their policies cover and whether they have sewer backup or overland flood protection. Sewer backup coverage is widely available as an add-on product to most standard home insurance policies. Overland flood protection is available across the province from several insurers.”

Donaldson, almost prophetically, noted that some policy holders, “in high-risk areas and areas prone to frequent floods may run into difficulty finding affordable coverage. Consumers should check with their insurance representatives to see what options are available.”

Eleven months earlier, a similar rainfall on September 28 and 29, 2016, caused equally significant flooding in the region. At that time IBC estimated repairing flood basements would require payouts of almost $108 million in insured damage.

Some residents found out their homeowner’s insurance didn’t cover flooding. Others, reported by Absolute Draining and Plumbing in a post to its website on October 19, 2016, were only partially compensated.

“Many people,” the company said, were, “left with huge bills after they’d suffered extensive water damage in their homes. In some cases, homeowners have bills exceeding $100,000 and have discovered their current insurance tops out at $10,000, leaving them to pick up the rest of the bill.”

The city, reported City Engineer Mark Winterton in an email to one resident, “is undertaking a comprehensive Sewer Master Plan to look at the entire sewer system in Windsor and recommend actions which will reduce the risk of basement flooding. While the study will take approximately 18 months to complete.”

Replies to the post suggest 18 months to study the issue is not acceptable.

One resident, flooded in both events, concluded that no one, “should have to live in their homes fearing the next rainfall, the City has definitely affected our quality of life by not addressing the problems.”

Some residents are fearing another shoe will soon drop.

They anticipate the flooding could impact their ability to sell their homes. Homes that become uninsurable could see their value decline, the residents noted.

In addition to streets flooding, on 29 September 2016, residents arrived home to find their basements filled with water.Photo by Tim Shaw.

In addition to streets flooding, on 29 September 2016, residents arrived home to find their basements filled with water.
Photo by Tim Shaw.

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Robert Tuomi
After initially succeeding as a broadcast journalist and achieving senior level assignments, Robert branched out into marketing communications. As a senior executive, primarily in the high-tech industry, Robert created award-winning and comprehensive, multi-faceted initiatives to enhance sales and expand market awareness for some of the largest companies in their fields. Email Robert Tuomi