Over 50% of all home insurance claims caused by water damage in 2013, Aviva Canada data shows

 Over 50% of all home insurance claims caused by water damage in 2013, Aviva  Canada data shows  Top Ten Tips to Protect Your Home Against Water Damage This Spring  TORONTO, March 25, 2014 /CNW/ - After the worst year for water damage claims  in Canadian history, Aviva Canada Inc., one of the country's leading providers  of home, auto, leisure and business insurance, is encouraging Canadians to  take steps to protect their property this spring.  "With last year's storms, water damage reached an all time high making up 51%  of all Aviva Canada property claims," states Wayne Ross, Vice President of  Property Claims for Aviva Canada. "The flooding in Alberta and Toronto  certainly played a big part in the increase, but the general trend is upward.  And as severe weather events are growing in frequency, we expect to see more  situations like this in the future."  Aviva Canada paid out a record of over $190 million in water damage claims in  2013, a 69% increase versus 2012. If the 2013 Alberta and Toronto catastrophes  were removed from the calculation, water damage would have still made up 40%  of all property claims for Aviva Canada. The 40% is still a large portion of  total property damage claims and illustrates the need to be aware of how to  protect your property this spring with the winter melt underway.  Data also shows that in 2013, the average cost of a water damage claim rose to  $20,537, a 130% increase versus the $8,944 that the company experienced 10  years earlier. Even with the flooding catastrophes removed, the figures have  trended higher for a number of years.  "The reasons for the upward trend are rather simple," commented Wayne Ross.  "The increasing investment Canadians are putting into their basements,  combined with more frequent severe weather events and an aging sewer system  that is unable to deal with large amounts of water within a short time period,  results in a lot of homes experiencing damage."  Aviva Canada applauds the recent infrastructure investment announcements made  by the Alberta and Manitoba governments and would love to see other provinces  follow suit.  And while an insurance policy is in place to protect against certain weather  events, Canadians need to protect themselves against loss. Many Canadians are  unaware that overland flooding, such as water swells from nearby rivers or  lakes, is not covered under standard home insurance policies and that this  coverage is not widely available.  The top ten steps Canadians should take this spring to safeguard their homes  and possessions from water damage are:          1. Inspect your roof:To prevent leaks, get the roof inspected every          few years to check the condition of the shingles and replace when          necessary.       2. Clear out gutters:Prevent blockages, such as leaves and other          debris that could force water into your home.       3. Install a backwater valve:These valves close automatically if the          sewer backs up and can prevent thousands of dollars in damage.       4. Scope out your sump pump: If your basement has one, examine it and          conduct a test run if it doesn't get used frequently.       5. Slope right:Ensure that soil, walkways and patios slope away from          the home to allow for proper drainage.       6. Check your foundation:As ice melts, if you notice water pooling in          certain areas, clear it away from your home.       7. Ensure your window wells are debris-free:Clear any accumulated          garbage or leaves to allow water to drain properly.       8. Ensure street catch basins are not blocked:These prevent snow from          building up on the street level, protecting water from seeping          towards your property.       9. Protect your valuables:If your home is prone to water damage,          consider moving valuables away from high-risk areas such as the          basement, or place items on high shelves or risers.      10. Start right:If you are finishing your basement, make sure to seal          your exterior walls.  Without taking such precautions, homeowners could put their homes and family  belongings at great risk.  A provincial breakdown of the comparison in the  average cost of water damage claims from 2003 versus 2013 is included below.  The data highlights the increases we experienced in Alberta and Ontario, and  also the trend that has taken place across the country over the last ten years.  Canadians are encouraged to reach out to their insurance broker to make sure  they know the extent of their water damage coverage.  About Aviva Canada Aviva Canada is one of the leading Property and Casualty insurance groups in  Canada providing home, automobile, recreational vehicle, group and business  insurance to more than three million customers. A wholly-owned subsidiary of  UK-based Aviva plc, the company has more than 3,000 employees, 25 locations  and 1,700 independent broker partners. Aviva Canada and its employees invest  in positive change including through the Aviva Community Fund and Eva's  Initiatives, its partner in Aviva's global Street to School program to help  homeless and other at-risk youth reach their potential.  For more information visit AvivaCanada.com, our blog or our Twitter, Facebook  and LinkedIn pages.    SOURCE  Aviva Canada Inc.  Media Contact: Glenn Cooper Senior Manager, Public Relations and Social  Media Aviva Canada Inc. Desk: (416) 288-2685 Mobile: (416) 523-3225  glenn_cooper@avivacanada.com  Image with caption: "Comparison of Average Cost of Water Damage Claims 2003  vs. 2013 (CNW Group/Aviva Canada Inc.)". Image available at:   http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140325_C6948_PHOTO_EN_38306.jpg  To view this news release in HTML formatting, please use the following URL:  http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/March2014/25/c6948.html  CO: Aviva Canada Inc. ST: Ontario NI: INS