By Cec Haire, CBC News

Insurance officials in Newfoundland and Labrador say their phones are ringing off the hook from people with water damage from Tuesday’s rain, and those asking how to protect themselves for the next big storm.

Insurance claims for flooded basements are expected to soon start piling up from the recent heavy rains.

The storm hit hardest on the south coast of the island, the interior and the Bay of Exploits region.

Flooded basements from rising water levels on rivers, streams, brooks, ponds and lakes are damage the insurance industry calls ‘over land water damage.’

“I don’t know what the percentages are, but a lot of people don’t have the coverage, let’s put it that way,” says Kent Rowe, president of the Insurance Brokers’ Association of Newfoundland and Labrador.

“The over land water flood protection has only been available in this province in the past 12 to 18 months. Not every insurance company offers it.”

Rowe says the industry came up with the coverage due to the increased frequency and severity of significant rainfalls over the last few years.

“Water damage claims are the number one source of claims in our industry right now. It used to be that fire was. Water is the new fire.”

Rowe says since Tuesday’s flooding many people are now looking for the added coverage. He says that’s a good development since more people will likely be protected the next time heavy rain hits.

“That’s coverage that can be added by endorsement. We’ve had multiple calls, a lot of calls actually, from people asking, ‘Am I covered for this? And if I’m not, how do I become covered for it?'”

The added coverage could be 60 to $90 dollars a year in low-risk zones or as high as $2500 a year or more in high-risk zones. The coverage also usually means higher deductibles.

What you need to know in a flood

Rowe said if you have water in your basement, it’s your obligation to make sure the damage doesn’t get any worse.

“That means pumping out water, removing valuables to dry land or to a high area where they can dry out. Get fans in there. Try [to] keep that loss at a bare minimum,” said Rowe.

“You can’t just sit there and let the water build up and say. ‘Okay, I’ll just wait for the insurance company to come in and clean this up.'”

Document everything

Rowe says when the time comes to make a claim, make sure there’s proof of the damage.

“Everybody has a smart phone. Start recording, and dialogue as you’re recording. Record what’s damaged, what may be submerged under the water that you can’t see.”

“If you have the evidence it makes the claims adjudication that much more easy.”

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