If you live in Ontario, you don’t need to be told that a freezing rain storm hit Ontario just before Christmas. Huge trees fell on power lines and homes, leaving 500,000 people without electricity for up to 10 days in some areas. It left many homeowners wondering what damage would be covered by their homeowners insurance policy, and what would not. Here’s the answer:

Homeowners insurance policies do not cover losses caused by freezing during the usual heating season in a heated portion of the home if someone has been away from their home for more than four consecutive days, unless the homeowner has:

Arranged for a competent person to check the home daily

OR

Shut off the water supply and drained all the pipes and domestic water containers

OR

Their plumbing and heating system is connected to a monitored alarm station

If you have any questions about what is covered by your homeowners insurance policy, feel free to give us a call at Noble Insurance.  And now check out these tips from Intact Insurance with tips to follow if another freezing rain storm hits.

If you stay in your home:

  • To prevent frozen pipes, turn the taps on slightly so water can trickle through, as pipes with running water will not freeze. Alternatively, turn off the main water supply and open the pipes completely.
  • Take extra caution when using a wood-burning fireplace.
  • Use a flashlight rather than candles to reduce the risk of fire. Do not use appliances intended for outdoor use indoors, such as camping or heating equipment and gas barbecues.
  • Keep your fridge and freezer door closed as much as possible. A full freezer will keep food frozen for 24 to 36 hours if not opened.
  • If you see downed power lines, stay far away and report them to your local power authority.

If you leave your property:

  • Turn off the main water valve and drain water from the pipes and flush toilets several times. Keep the basement drain clear.
  • To prevent a power surge when the electricity does come back on, unplug all tools, appliances and electronic equipment and turn the thermostats down to minimum.
  • Turn off all lights, including Christmas lights, except one inside and one outside, until power is restored.
  • Leave natural gas service on unless authorities tell you to turn it off.
  • Lock your home.

Once power is restored:

  • Do not enter a flooded basement unless it is absolutely safe to do so.
  • Flooded appliances, electrical outlets, switch boxes or fuse-breaker panels should not be used until they have been checked by an electrician.
  • Replace the furnace flue if removed, and turn off the fuel to the standby heating unit.
  • Turn the thermostats up, wait a few minutes, then plug in the fridge and freezer back in. Wait 10-15 minutes before plugging other appliances back in.
  • Turn on water supply.
  • Check the food in your fridge and freezer for signs of spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out. Check this food safety website for details about specific foods.