The Next Wind Storm: Do You Have the Right Insurance Coverage?
Ontario has seen its share of large-scale wind storms recently and some regions have even experienced the occasional tornado! Each wind storm can result in massive insurance claims across the province.
Blowing debris, falling trees, branches and flying objects in a wind storm can leave behind a trail of damage on your home such as broken windows and damage to siding and the roof. They can also cause significant damage to vehicles, requiring body work and window replacement.
Every time a wind storm occurs, our staff gets busy answering questions about the details of various home policies and putting through damage claims for those of you who are eligible. Unfortunately, it’s too late to get the right insurance AFTER an event. So let’s review windstorm coverage so you understand what’s included—and you don’t get blown away by unexpected costs from storm damage!
Potential Wind Storm Damages
Siding and Windows
Siding and windows are usually covered by all insurance policies at replacement cost.
Here’s where things get tricky. There are differences in various insurance policies when it comes to roof coverage. In the event that you need to make a claim for roof damage, some insurance product providers will account for depreciation, original roof construction material, and even the location of the home. This can result in some of large out-of-pocket expenses for a homeowner. Check with us regarding your policy details.
Also, if your roof was in a state of disrepair before the storm, then your insurance company will likely not cover repair costs. Ask your broker for details on whether a roof of your age and condition would be eligible for repair costs.
The coverage available for water damage caused by a storm also varies from policy to policy. Floods can occur when debris from wind or even large amounts of hail clog water systems. Again, it is vital to check your specific homeowner policy to know what is (and what is not) covered.
Sewer backups are also a real possibility. These can be caused by debris in gutters and downspouts. Double check whether you’re covered in the event that raw sewage backs up into your home. Trust us—you don’t want to wait until it’s too late to find out that you don’t have coverage for this.
Did you know? Only 35% of Canadian Insurance customers add sewer backup coverage to their policy according to a recent JD Power and Associates study. Yikes!
Zap! Power lines and utility poles could be damaged in high windstorms and lead to power outages. If the power outage results in significant losses, then filing an insurance claim may be an option on your policy.
Homeowners and tenants policies cover any damage or loss to the contents of your home—including food! If you plan on filing a claim through your insurance, take an inventory of all items lost from your fridge/freezer.
If your vehicle is only covered with liability coverage, then any repairs or replacement of your vehicle as a result of high winds or flying debris will not be covered. Only vehicles covered with a comprehensive coverage insurance policy will be covered by damage from hail, high winds, and flying debris.
If the repair costs exceed the value of your vehicle, then the car may simply be written off. Most insurance companies provide the current cash value of the vehicle which is how much the car would be sold for in the present market if it had not been damaged.
Ensure that all your vehicles including your motorhome trailer, all-terrain vehicle and/or boat [link to recent article] have an insurance policy that covers wind damage.
If storm damage forces you to shut your doors of your business for rebuilding or repairs, then Business Interruption coverage can make sure that you can still cover your bills. There are many different forms of Business Interruption coverage so it’s best to work with your broker to find the right fit for your company.
What to Look for in an Insurance Policy
Usually, homeowner and business insurance policies cover wind damage. Coverage would include damage to the structure of the building and damaged contents, and extend to the cost of clearing out debris. Therefore, your coverage limits should cover the entire cost of rebuilding your structure, the replacement of all of your belongings, and any cleaning costs. Talk with your broker to figure out what your coverage limit should be.
Additional Living Expense Coverage
This extra coverage will cover living expenses if you could not stay in your home due to damage. it will reimburse you for items such as hotel bills, food and dining, and other living expenses.
Guaranteed Replacement Cost [GRC] or Additional Rebuilding Cost [ARC]
Both GRC or ARC provide you with coverage over and above your standard policy limits. For example, it would cover the cost of building costs and inflation if your home was insured for #350,000 even if the cost to rebuild amount to $400,000. Depending on the terms and conditions of your specific policy, GRC or ARC will cover the additional amount.
If a Storm is Coming
Before the Wind Storm
Storms can occur at any time of the year but they are most prevalent in Ontario between June 1st and September 1st.
- Remove debris from gutters and downspouts that could lead to future issues.
- Park your car away from trees, street lights and power lines.
- Store your vehicle in a garage or carport, if possible.
- Check that all doors and windows of your home, shed, garage, etc., are completely closed.
- Make sure all roofing components are securely fastened (fascia, soffits, chimney caps, etc.)
- Check that seals around the chimney, skylights, dormers, vents, etc., are in good condition.
- Make sure gutters are working properly and downspouts are draining water well away from the foundation. Add downspout extensions if needed.
- Secure all glass openings (windows, sunroof, etc.) to limit additional damages.
- Make sure patio furniture, recycling bins, barbecues and any other outdoor fixtures are properly stored and/or secured.
- Close the stop valve on any propane appliances.
During a Wind Storm
- Get storm updates from your local news or weather channels.
- If you are told to evacuate or take cover, do it!
- Stay away from glass windows and doors.
- Avoid using electrical appliances.
- Avoid lighting candles or lanterns as they could get blown over, starting a fire.
- Stay inside to avoid injuries from flying debris
After a Wind Storm
- Beware of downed power lines and gas leaks.
- Pick up branches and debris on your property.
- Take any necessary steps to secure your property and prevent water damage.
- Talk to a tree pruner to deal with any remaining branch damage.
- Call for a tree cutter if a tree is damaged and likely to fall.
- Reach out to a roofer for any roof repairs needed.
- Contact your insurance broker to make a claim or get advice.
Although we can’t prevent tornadoes or windstorms, we can make sure your home and belongings are properly insured. Check your policy details before the wind starts blowing! Get in touch anytime at email@example.com or 613-932-0083.