If you suffered damages as a result of a basement flood or sewer backup incident, please contact 311 immediately to allow Toronto Water to investigate as it plays an important part in the claims investigation process.


The City creates a record documenting calls to 311 reporting a basement flood and/or a blocked sewer service line and the results of Toronto Water’s investigation. A claims investigation will look at the 311 record and the results of Toronto Water’s investigation. If you file a claim against the City and you have not reported the incident to 311 to allow Toronto Water an opportunity to investigate, this could have an impact on your ability to prove that the damages that you suffered from a basement flood/sewer backup were due to the City’s negligence.

When making a claim against the City for flood or sewer backup damages it’s important to note that Toronto Water staff are not associated with the City of Toronto’s Insurance Adjusters and are not involved in the management of insurance claims. Additionally, the City will not be responsible for your property damage if the City’s Toronto Water division has met installation and maintenance standards for its water and sewage systems, specifically:


  • Installation of water or sewer service was completed in accordance with the engineering practices that prevailed at the time.


  • A reasonable maintenance system is in place and adhered to. This includes proactive measures to prevent water and sewage systems from failure and to ensure mechanisms are in place to enable the City to respond appropriately to system failures.

Watermain breaks or sewer backups can be attributed to causes other than the City’s failure to properly install or maintain its infrastructure. The weather, for example, can have a significant impact.

The pressures created by the freeze/thaw cycles during the winter can also place a significant amount of strain on watermains. These pressures often result in leaks and ruptures. Severe weather systems that pass through the City can also strain the sewer system.

Significant rainfall over a short period of time can result in the City’s storm and combined sewers taking in more water than they are designed to accommodate, resulting in sewer backups.

The City can only be held responsible for damage to private property caused by water escaping from its infrastructure if you are able to establish that damage was caused by the City’s negligence.

You are encouraged to submit your claim as soon as possible using the Claim Submission Web Form.

For more about the claims process in general, please visit Make a Claim Against the City.

For more about basement flooding, please visit Basement Flooding.

There will be an investigation by the City’s adjusters to determine if the City is responsible for your loss.

The investigation will consist of gathering information from you and Toronto Water. Records from the division will be reviewed to determine if reasonable maintenance, response time and installation standards were met. Division records are found in Toronto Water’s work management system database and may include service request details, completed work orders, summaries of service requests and records of preventative maintenance.

In addition, Environment Canada weather records (to track temperatures and precipitation), City of Toronto rain gauge records (in the event of a severe weather system passing through the City at the time of the loss) and information about contractors or third parties that may have been carrying out work at or near the site of the incident, are collected and reviewed. If the applicable standards have not been met, the adjuster will contact you in an effort to resolve your claim.

Typically, property damage claims related to flood or sewer backup are completed within 90 days.

In cases of extreme storm events such as heavy rain, snowstorms or windstorms the City does receive a higher volume of claims which generally extends the time it takes to process insurance claims. In these cases, the City’s investigation may take longer than 90 days. If the adjuster is unable to provide you with a response within 90 days then the adjuster will communicate to you by letter to advise of the delay and every 90 days thereafter, if necessary. The adjuster will advise you if your claim falls in the “storm event” category.

A storm event can be defined as intense and sustained precipitation (rain and/or snow) that:

  • exceeds the design capacity of local sewers and/or trunk sewers;
  • results in a sudden and significant increase in customer service calls reported to 311 of basement flooding and/or blocked sewer service lines, and;
  • Customer Care & Technical Support, Water Service Technicians, are unable to meet the standard four hour customer service response time to investigate basement flooding and/or blocked sewer service lines due to a sudden increase in customer service calls to 311. Depending where in the city the rain fell during the storm event, the calls may be localized, include multiple distinct areas of the city, or can be city-wide.

Repairs to your property may be expedited by making a claim through your insurance company.

If Toronto Water records show that reasonable maintenance, response time and installation standards were met, the City has a defense and your claim will be denied. The City’s independent insurance adjuster will outline the results of their investigation in a letter and provide you with the division’s report that justifies the City’s denial.

It’s important to know that the majority of property damage claims made against the City of Toronto are denied as City divisions regularly meet or exceed standard service levels.

If you still wish to pursue your claim after being denied compensation, your next option is to proceed with legal action.

For more information regarding the claims process, please contact the City of Toronto’s Claims Inquiry Line at 416-397-4212.