Water damage; are business owners taking it seriously?

Flood waters

Concern rises for small to medium-sized business owners. Are they aware of the risks of water damage and how to prevent it?

2014 has seen an increased focus on water damage from the insurance industry. With severe weather events costing the Canadian insurance industry $3.2 billion in insured losses last year, there’s no surprises as to why - this is an issue that needs to be taken seriously by insurers, brokers and customers.

JULIE PINGREE, VICE PRESIDENT, COMMERCIAL INSURANCE AT RSA STRESSES THAT WATER LOSSES ARE PREVALENT IN ALL MAJOR INDUSTRY SECTORS – IT’S NOT JUST A RESIDENTIAL REALTY STORY.

“Fire and water damage are the two biggest causes of loss impacting commercial property results” explains Pingree, “weather is a hot topic at the moment because it is a major contributing factor, especially following the severe winter we’ve just encountered which has caused a significant spike in water claims for our commercial clients.”

Unsurprisingly, sewer back-up and water-main breaks are two key causes of loss for commercial clients but it is water escape from internal plumbing that is responsible for over half the claims paid to commercial clients by RSA. Freezing pipes, age related deterioration and leakage from sprinkler systems are all key contributors. 

“Flood is less common but very costly and disruptive for businesses when it does occur, as we saw last summer in Alberta” Pingree continues. “Businesses with perishable contents have a particularly high exposure to water claims as stock may need to be destroyed in the event of an incident.”

Whether commercial clients realize it or not – one thing is clear – the need to better understand the potential risks they face is essential in protecting their businesses from water damage. As a market-leading insurer, RSA is working with brokers to ensure clients are “Climate Smart”, which includes encouraging behaviours that help them mitigate damage to their property and prepare them for the impact of the increased frequency and severity of climate change-related weather events, while also helping to protect and preserve the environment.

HERE ARE SOME TOP TIPS FOR YOUR COMMERCIAL CLIENTS FOR PROTECTING THEIR BUSINESSES FROM THE MOST COMMON CAUSES OF WATER DAMAGE:

  1. Avoid storing stock that is easily damaged by water in basements or make sure they are placed on shelving of an appropriate height – keep floors free if possible.
  2. Ensure pipes close to exterior walls are properly insulated – this is particularly important for clients in older buildings. 
  3. Keep the premises heated – even if it is shut down for short periods of time.
  4. Conduct regular maintenance including the roof, plumbing systems and equipment. Leaks and/or clogging can lead to burst pipes. Make sure you hire a professional.
  5. Install alarms on sprinkler systems to provide an early alert to leakage.

For more tips like these or for further information on water damage visit our Climate Smart resource hub which provides insights, tools and resources that are designed specifically to help brokers educate, inform and add value to their client relationships – helping them to prevent and reduce the risk of climate and weather related damages.