Climate Change is becoming an ever-increasing threat to the world. From flooding, landslides, extreme winds, and heavy snowfall in the winter, to hurricanes, sweltering heat, wildfires, and droughts in the summer, each season brings its own challenges and dangers. As these threats to the environment mount, so too does the threat they pose on your home.
Coastal cities such as Vancouver can be some of the most hard hit by these natural disasters, as seen in last winter’s floods and the increasingly prominent summer wildfires. But even land-locked cities such as Winnipeg can experience dangerous and damaging weather events, as seen with their recent and unusually late-in-the-season snowstorm.
So, what can you do to ensure you are properly protected against these disasters? Condominium corporations and individual owners alike can take steps to prepare their homes for an extreme weather event. Read below for some helpful tips to fortify your assets.
1. Obtain an Insurance Appraisal
A 3rd party insurance appraisal is the only way to ensure that your building and common property are properly insured to full replacement cost value. While many insurance policies protect against extreme weather and “Acts of God,” if your property is not adequately insured and experiences a total loss, your corporation could face a significant deficit resulting in major special assessments or levies to pay for the shortfall.
Not having an appraisal at all may also subject your corporation to a co-insurance clause, where the owners will be financially liable for a percentage of the loss – typically 10-20% of the property’s replacement cost. In British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and most Canadian provinces, strata and condo corporations are required to be insured to their full replacement cost value, and for good reason! Individual unit owners should inquire if their building has a current insurance appraisal, and if not, encourage the strata council or condo board to obtain one.
2. Retrofit or Upgrade Outdated Pipes
According to Canadian Underwriter, water damage claims accounted for the most commercial property claims in recent history, and this can be directly linked to extreme weather. Overflowing pipes from flooding and burst pipes from extreme cold can lead to devastating property damage.
April Pittendreigh, Vice President of National Claims at Gallagher Canada, told Canadian Underwriter, “water claims have more than doubled since 2015. But if it is a large water damage claim — like in a high-rise building in metro areas — those claims cost numbers have tripled since 2013.” Make sure your pipes are up to date and regularly maintained, and have an effective water mitigation plan in place to offset the impacts of extreme weather.
3. Utilize Fire Safe Plants and Landscaping
Droughts and wildfires have increasingly become more prominent in Western Canada. Dry plants are the perfect kindling for a wildfire and could leave your property susceptible to a fire loss.
According to HouseLogic, fire safe plants and materials can act as fuel breaks for wildfires. Here are just a few examples of fire safe landscaping options:
- Pebbles or gravel in lieu of mulch
- Concrete patios in lieu of wood decks
- Pavers and rocks
- High-moisture annuals and perennials native to your area. You can find lists of plants appropriate for your area at firewise.org
- Invest in wire mesh to cover soffit, attic, and under-eave vents, as well as openings in areas below patios, decks, and porches, to limit the allocation of fire-prone materials such as dried leaves
4. Winterize your home
The winter season has been prolonging each year, especially in the Prairie provinces. As a result, it is imperative that you not only winterize your home at the beginning of the season, but regularly maintain for the duration of the cold months. Simple and effective ways to winterize your home are:
- Inspect your home regularly for leaks or cracks. You will usually find these in windowsills, concrete foundations, and stucco exteriors
- Insulate your attic and pipes
- Keep furnaces up-to-date and clean. Not only is furnace maintenance imperative for keeping your home warm during the winter, but it can also save you money in the long run
- Inspect your roof for any leaks or cracks that could cause water to accumulate and freeze in your base structure, windowsills, or attic
- Repair loose or missing handrails on stairs, and keep plenty of salt and sand on hand for de-icing
5. Stay Up-To-Date on the Weather and Hazard Alerts in your area
Finally, staying on top of extreme weather and hazard alerts will give you ample time to prepare and protect your property against a loss:
Climate change is a real and increasingly dangerous threat, but there are proactive steps that can be taken to offset the risk. Make sure that your property is insured to its full replacement cost value and take the necessary steps to safe-proof your homes before a loss happens.
Accredited Insurance Appraisal Experts
At Normac, we specialize in insurance appraisals – it is the only type of appraisal we do! While other companies offer various types of appraisal services, our team specializes in replacement cost reports. There is no confusion in our valuation methods – our reports are reliable and accurate. Protect your assets with an insurance appraisal from Normac.