Helping your clients understand flood risks

The Insurance Bureau of Canada estimates 1.7 million Canadian homes are at risk for flooding. Floods can happen almost anywhere—not just along waterways—and can result in tens of thousands of dollars in damages, as well as disruption to families and negative health impacts.

As a real estate professional, you can help your clients make informed purchasing decisions by understanding potential flood risks as well as the protection measures they can take:

  • Help your clients understand the risk of flooding for specific properties and areas. Visit the municipality’s office or website for available flood maps.
  • Advise your clients to speak to their insurer about flood insurance options for a particular home or community. It’s important to note that most standard insurance policies do not cover the expenses that result from flood damage.
  • Do some research into past floods in the area. Take advantage of existing knowledge about historical floods in a community. It can be as simple as asking the local municipality, an insurer, the home inspector or other neighbourhood residents.
  • Ensure the property is assessed for flooding risks during the home inspection. Make sure the home inspector evaluates the property’s grading and checks for previous water damage or dampness in basements or crawl spaces.
  • Advise your clients to take flood prevention measures after purchasing their home. Let them know about the easy and cost-effective things they can do, such as sealing cracks around windows, installing sump pumps and directing water from downspouts away from the property.

Unfortunately, the frequency and severity of floods is increasing across the country. As a REALTOR®, you have an opportunity to mobilize flood risk education and help make sure Canadian home buyers are as prepared as they can be.

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Editor’s Note: Thanks to Shawna Peddle of Flood Smart for sharing these insights. REALTORS®, have you had any experiences with flooding or flood prevention? Let us know in the Comments section below.

Shawna Peddle, Director of Partners for Action, University of Waterloo, works with partners across the country to create more flood-resilient communities. Her website,, provides resources on understanding flood risk and protecting homes, families and communities before, during and after a flood. Shawna spends much of her professional life working with residents in flood-prone communities, and watching The Weather Network. When not in the office, she can be found at the pool or baseball diamond with her husband and sons.

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