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Heavy rains to hit Southern Ontario; IBC issues flood prevention tips

Guthrie Insurance

TORONTO, Feb. 20, 2014 /CNW/ - Environment Canada has issued a major storm warning for Southern Ontario. The storm could bring 25 to 50 millimetres of rain along with rising temperatures and strong winds on Thursday afternoon and in to Friday.

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) warns that this volume of rain added to the snow already on the ground could result in localized flooding. "These storms can have a devastating impact on communities and property. Individuals and families can prepare by taking simple precautions before storms strike," said Ralph Palumbo, IBC Vice-President, Ontario.

Here are precautions to take immediately:

•Assemble an emergency kit – flashlight and batteries, battery-operated radio etc.
•Move valuable items from your basement to higher levels in your home.
•Clear eaves troughs and downspouts – if safe to do so – to direct water away from your home.
•Shovel snow away from the house, especially basement windows.
•Ask someone to check your property if you are away.

Also take these precautions if you have more time:

•Create an emergency preparedness plan for your family.
•Prepare a detailed home inventory. This can be done as photos or video.
•Install a sump pump and/or sewer backup valve.
•Elevate furnaces, hot water heaters and electrical panels in the basement or relocate them to a higher level.
•Check with your insurance representative to make sure you have appropriate coverage.

If something happens, are you covered?

•Damage to homes caused by snow, rain or wind is generally covered. This includes damage caused by flying debris or falling branches or trees, or damage to your home and its contents when water or snow enters through openings caused by high winds.
•Damage to mobile homes or trailers may be covered from wind damage. Policy wordings vary so check with your insurance representative.
•Damage to cars from wind or water is typically covered if you have comprehensive or all-perils car insurance. This coverage isn't mandatory so check your policy.
•Overland flooding is not covered by home insurance. Damage caused by water is generally only covered in specific circumstances. For example, it is covered if caused by a sudden and accidental release from a water main or inside plumbing.
•Water damage from a sewer backup is only covered if you have sewer backup coverage.
•In certain circumstances, homeowners who are unable to live in their homes because of insurable damage are entitled to additional living expenses. Ask your insurance representative for more information.

If something happens, how do you start the insurance process?

•Call your insurance representative and/or company. Most insurers have 24-hour claims service. Be as detailed as possible when providing information. If you need help getting in touch with your insurer, contact IBC's Consumer Information Centre at 1-800-387-2880.
•List all damaged or destroyed items. If possible, assemble proofs of purchase, photos, receipts and warranties. Take photos of damage incurred and keep damaged items, unless they pose a health hazard.
•Keep all receipts related to cleanup and living expenses if you've been displaced. Ask your insurance representative about what expenses you're entitled to and for what period of time.
•Review your policy to ensure you are familiar with any deductibles, coverage limits and replacement values. Talk to your insurance representative if anything is unclear.

Above all else do not panic and always use common sense - be safe out there !

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