FirstService Residential hosted an educational seminar for Council Members on the topic of “Water Loss Reduction for Stratas”. The event featured a panel discussion with guest speakers Paul Murcutt (Client Executive, BFL Insurance), Megan Cunningham (Claims Advisor, BFL Insurance), Travis Magoon (Senior Project Consultant, Trotter & Morton), and Sean Ingraham (Director of Business Development, FirstService Residential). The event was hosted downtown in the amenity room of The Canadian at Wall Centre, a property proudly managed by FirstService Residential.
There was a great turnout from Council Members representing numerous Strata Corporations in the neighbourhood. Guests enjoyed another lively discussion with our panel speakers.
The following is a general summary of discussion points from the event:

Insurance (As presented by BFL representatives)

  • Approximately 1 in 2 Strata Corporations will have a water-related claim in a given year.
  • Owners are not required to have personal insurance under the Strata Property Act, which impacts the financial burden placed on Strata Corporations for water damage claims.
  • It is estimated that only 40% of strata owners have personal insurance.
  • It was recommended that owners have earthquake coverage as part of their personal insurance policy.
  • Strata Corporations should look to maintain insurance policies with “all risk” coverage.
  • Insurance companies have to purchase reinsurance policies from the reinsurance market, which is typically impacted by global events. This helps explain, in part, why global events, such as flooding in other parts of the world, impact local insurance premiums and deductibles for water claims.
  • There are approximately 52 property insurance companies in Canada. Only 18 to 20 of these companies are willing to offer insurance to Strata Corporations.

Insurance Claims Process (As presented by BFL representatives)

  • The basic steps in the insurance claim process for a water damage claim include:
1.  Incident Report is filed with insurance company.
2.  Insurance company determines whether claim is above or below deductible.
3.  Claim is sent to independent insurance adjuster to review.
4.  Work estimates are finalized with contractors.

Building Maintenance

  • For taller buildings, there is typically one pressure reducing valve (PRV) for every 10 floors. Smaller properties may not have PRVs.
  • Depending on your property, it was recommended to include the inspection of PRV valves in the regular maintenance agreement with your plumbing company.
  • Electronic sensors are another tool that can be installed on pipes to monitor water pressure entering a building from municipal water mains.
  • The City of Vancouver has begun requiring backflow preventers in strata buildings to prevent waste water from flowing back into municipal water lines.
  • Horizontal building drains should be inspected and cleaned by a plumbing company, as required, to prevent water backup.
  • Braided water hoses are durable lines that are recommended for washing machines.


  • FirstService Residential has initiated a pilot program with 10 properties across Metro Vancouver to help reduce both the frequency of water damage claims and the amount of these claims by educating owners on water loss.
  • Washing machines typically cause the most water damage of any appliance. Occasionally inspecting a washer’s water hose and replacing the hose can reduce the probability of the line bursting.
  • Visual inspections of faucets, drains, caulking, and toilet lines are also recommended to owners to help identify potential water loss concerns early.
  • Making owners aware of the location of their water shutoff valves is effective in mitigating water damage.
  • Every property is unique and preventative water loss techniques will vary based on a building’s design and layout.
Thursday December 05, 2013