When making a claim against the City for flood or sewer back-up damages it’s important to note that 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.
According to the City of Toronto Act you are required to submit a claim letter or email to the City Clerk for property damage or injury.
The claim letter should include the following:
- Your name, home address, phone number and email address
- Date, time and location of accident which caused the property damage or injury
- Exact municipal address including a diagram and/or photo of accident location must be submitted with claim letter
- Describe how the accident happened and names, phone numbers of any witnesses
- Detailed description of your property damage or injury
- Include documentation that you believe support your claim such as: photos, receipts and estimates
- Outline why you believe the City is responsible for the accident
- Did you report this accident to the City, if so, please provide name(s) of City staff involved
- If a City contractor was involved please provide contractor’s name
- Failure to provide exact municipal address will delay the processing of your claim
- Scanned documents are acceptable- there is limit of 10 MB for each email transmission
Where to submit your claim letter
Your claim letter can be received by email, mail or fax:
City Clerk’s Office- Claims
100 Queen Street West,
9th Floor, West Tower
Toronto, Ontario, M5H 2N2
The City Clerk’s Office forwards all claims to the City of Toronto’s insurance adjusters, ClaimsPro, for evaluation.
If you submitted by email:
- Claim letters submitted by email will be acknowledged by the City Clerk’s Office within two business days upon receipt of your email.
- ClaimsPro will send an initial acknowledgement email within two business day upon receipt of your email from the City Clerk’s Office.
- A ClaimsPro Claims Adjuster will be assigned to investigate your claim and will also send you an acknowledgement email within two business days of being assigned the claim.
If you submitted by mail or fax:
- Claim letters submitted by mail or fax should receive an acknowledgement letter from the City Clerk’s Office within ten business days upon receipt of your letter.
- ClaimsPro will send an acknowledgement letter within two business days upon receipt of your letter from the City Clerk’s Office.
- A ClaimsPro Claims Adjuster will be assigned to investigate your claim and will also send you an acknowledgement letter within two business days of being assigned the claim.
- Generally, you should receive an acknowledgment letter within 10 business days, however delays may occur due to mail and courier service.
The ClaimsPro Claims Adjuster is your contact person for the status of your claim.
If you do not receive an acknowledgement letter please contact ClaimsPro at 416-252-4431.
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 Hansen 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 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. The adjuster will advise you if your claim falls in the “storm event” category.
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.
The City of Toronto frequently enters into contracts with independent companies (contractors) who perform work on the City’s behalf. The City’s agreements with the contractors contain a strict requirement that they respond directly to claims for any damage or injury they caused to the public.
Upon receipt of information from the City division that a contractor had control over the accident location at the time of your loss, the City’s adjuster will forward your claim to the contractor for their investigation and liability determination. You will be advised in writing when your claim has been forwarded to the contractor. The contractor should acknowledge receipt of your claim and identify a contact person who will be investigating your claim. If you do not receive the contractor’s acknowledgement letter within 10 business days, please contact the City’s adjuster to assist you with determining the contractor’s contact person.
The contractor will conduct an investigation and make a liability decision regarding your claim. If the contractor determines they were responsible for your loss, they will resolve your claim with you directly.
If the contractor determines their work met reasonable and appropriate construction standards, they may deny your claim. In this case, their communication to you will provide the results of their investigation and clearly explain their decision. Should you disagree with the contractor’s decision, please contact the City’s adjuster to advise them of the contractor’s position.
The City adjuster can assist you with the following:
- clarify the claims process
- clarify the facts the led the City to its position on liability
- advise whether this position has changed given any of the contractor’s findings
If the contractor maintains that they are not liable, the City determines that it has not been negligent, and you still wish to pursue your claim, the adjuster will provide you with the basis upon which the City has denied liability.
If you still wish to pursue you claim, you have the option of pursuing the contractor and/or the City by proceeding legal action.