Tara Miller – January 2016
Are you thinking of escaping winter by heading down south for a week or longer? Have you closed up your summer cottage for the winter? Or have you recently moved from your home which is still listed for sale but vacant?
Stories of friends, relatives or neighbours whose pipes have frozen during the winter causing water damage to their homes are not uncommon in Nova Scotia where the winter is certainly cold enough for pipes to freeze. Most insurance policies (for your home or seasonal residence) have an exclusion for water damage caused by frozen pipes if a property is vacant for a certain period of time. The period of time is often not long and typically four (4) days. This means that despite paying for property insurance, you will NOT have any insurance for water damage which results from frozen pipes bursting. Fixing the damage will be your own responsibility and cost.
The good news is that insurance policies generally provide for an exception to this exclusion as long as certain preventative steps have been taken. For example, policies provide that water damage caused by frozen pipes will be covered if you have:
- Arranged for a competent person to visit your property each day you are away to ensure the heat is still on; or
- Shut off the water supply and had all pipes and domestic water containers drained; or
- a plumbing and heating system connected to a monitored alarm station which provides 24 hours service.
Before you pack the passport, sunscreen and bathing suit to escape the Nova Scotia winter weather, make sure you take a few minutes to review your property insurance policy so you are aware of what steps you need to take to ensure you have coverage if your pipes freeze when you are gone. If you cannot find your policy or have questions about what you need to do to ensure you have coverage, then call your insurance broker to review.