Manitoba property owners are bracing for the next downpour and in some cases still mopping up from the last storm.

The overland flood fight is ramping up with more rain on the way to southern Manitoba.

“We’ve got below grade window wells so they tend to have some runoff come in them so last weekend we had a bit of a waterfall into the basement,” said Rob Duncan, who lives in Winnipeg.

For Duncan and his wife Sharon that means loading up their van with sandbags provided by the City of Winnipeg to help hold back water, they worry could end up flooding their basement for the second week in a row.

While it didn’t require making an insurance claim, for many others the series of snow and rain storms that have hammered Manitoba so far in April have caused extensive damage.

“We know many insurance companies have said that they’ve received a lot of claims from a number of these events,” said Rob de Pruis, national director of consumer and industry relations for the Insurance Bureau of Canada. “And there is another event coming Manitoba’s way so we’re likely going to be seeing a lot more of these insurance claims.”

While overland flood coverage has been available since around 2015, de Pruis said it’s not automatically included with standard home insurance policies.

“Overland flood coverage is available for the vast majority of people in Manitoba but it is an optional endorsement that you would have to add on to your standard home insurance,” de Pruis said. “So what we’re encouraging people to do is review their insurance policy right away.”

He said if you don’t have coverage and you need it, you can contact your insurance broker and try to get it added on.

Red River Mutual said it’s already had a couple hundred claims. The insurance company said flood coverage is available and encourages homeowners to contact their insurance broker to find out what would best fit their needs.

Wawanesa Insurance said snow and rain have led to a significant increase in call volumes. The company said it’s currently assisting hundreds of policy holders with advice and damage assessments, noting it comes amid an increase in the number of climate-related disasters across Canada – disasters that it said led to more than $2.1 billion in payouts by insurance companies in 2021 .

But it’s keeping more than just insurance companies busy.

“In 43 years, I’ve never had so many people call in such a short period of time,” said Gerry Bonham, owner of Abalon Foundation Repairs.

Comparing it to the Flood of 1997, Bonham said his company has been swamped with calls from people dealing with water in their basement.

He said his company is booking appointments into September and even October and that’s just to take a look at the damage.

“I’ve been answering the phones just trying to walk them through what I can from here,” Bonham said.

Duncan had to dry out some soggy carpet in his basement. Other than that they escaped without any major damage. He said while he hasn’t had to call his insurance company about flood coverage, it’s something he may look into.

“The policy we’ve got was just up for renewal, so we’ll see,” Duncan said. “Maybe I’ll read the fine print a little bit better now.”

Duncan said so far they’ve just tried to flood-proof their basement as much as possible so nothing too important gets wet.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada said if you don’t have overland flood coverage and try to get it just before an impending storm, it’s possible insurance companies may restrict the sale of certain coverage.


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