Hurricane & Tropical Storms

If your home, car or business was damaged as a result of severe weather, here is some information to help you understand your insurance coverage and the various stages of the claims process. If you don't see the information you're looking for, contact Insurance Bureau of Canada's Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC (1-844-227-5422).

You can also direct questions to your IBC regional office:

Hurricanes and tropical storms can carry heavy rain and winds strong enough to cause widespread destruction.

It's important to understand the natural hazards in your area so you can plan ahead for worst-case scenarios. If you live in a community in Atlantic Canada, your hurricane and tropical storm risk is higher.

IBC's top 10 tips to prepare for a hurricane

  1. Dust off your emergency preparedness plan for your family, and assemble disaster safety kits for your home, car and office.
  2. Move valuable items in your basement to higher levels in your home.
  3. Protect or move property that may be damaged by flying debris.
  4. Have someone check your property if you are away.
  5. Make sure downspouts are clear of debris and direct water away from your home.
  6. Secure any loose patio furniture and barbecues. Do not operate BBQs and generators inside your home.
  7. If possible, protect and/or store your boat.
  8. Have a professional remove any at-risk tree branches or other items that could cause damage to your property or that of others.
  9. Pull out your detailed home inventory, and check that it is updated.
  10. Charge handheld electronics and have back-up power sources available. Avoid using candles and consider using battery-operated flashlights instead.

Every policy is different. Know what your insurance covers

Your insurance representative can confirm the coverage you have with your current policy and any potential deductible. Damage to homes caused by a windstorm and rain is usually covered, such as:

  • Losses caused by flying debris or fallen trees and/or branches.
  • Losses to your home and its contents from water entering through openings suddenly caused by wind.
  • Damage to vehicles from wind or water, if you have comprehensive coverage as part of your policy. (This coverage is optional, so check with your insurance representative to see what coverage you have purchased.)
  • Water damage in a basement due to a sewer backup is only covered if you have purchased specific, optional sewer backup coverage.
  • The contents of your refrigerator and freezer may be covered for damage related to food spoilage caused by an accidental power interruption. Typically, in this situation, your fridge, freezer and their contents are insured for a specified amount. Check your policy.
  • In certain circumstances, homeowners who are unable to stay in their homes because of insured damage may be entitled to additional living expenses. Check with your insurance representative to find out what your policy covers.

Storm surge

  • Home insurance and business insurance policies generally do not cover damage caused by coastal flooding and/or storm surge.
  • Automobile insurance does cover damage caused by storm surge and wind if you purchased optional comprehensive or all perils coverage.
  • For those who have experienced damage caused by storm surge, provincial and federal funding may be available through the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangement (DFAA) program. This program is designed for homeowners that are unable to obtain coverage through the private insurance market. Damage to your primary residence may be eligible for government assistance (if the program is launched), but secondary residences and cottages are excluded from these programs.

Why storm surge coverage is currently unavailable

  • With a fast-changing climate leading to rising sea levels and eroding coastlines, the risk modeling required by insurers to develop prices for coastal flood coverage is highly complex.
  • Without accurate risk modeling, the risk is deemed too high to make the coverage affordable and/or available.
  • The P&C insurance industry is eager to continue working with government to create a national public-private insurance program for overland flooding that offers protection to all Canadians. As part of this program, insurers are signaling that flood mapping/risk modelling, along with physical mitigation, improved building codes and land-use planning, are all necessary parts of Canada’s response to flood risk and our larger National Adaptation Strategy.
  • A public-private insurance program is part of this Strategy and will help close the insurance protection gap for the approximately 1.54 million homes in Canada that are at such high risk of flooding that private insurance for these homeowners is neither affordable nor available.

Tips for starting the claim process

  • Call your insurance representative or company. Most insurers have a 24-hour claims service. Be as detailed as possible when providing information.
  • List all damaged or destroyed items. If possible, assemble proofs of purchase, photos, receipts and warranties. Take photos of damage incurred and keep damaged items, unless they pose a health hazard.
  • Keep all receipts related to cleanup and living expenses if you've been displaced. Ask your insurance representative about what expenses you may be entitled to and for what period of time.

Business insurance coverage 

  • Each business insurance policy is unique and coverage depends on what coverages you've purchased.
  • Insurance options are commonly available for:
    • Commercial property and contents
    • Stock/inventory
    • Business interruption
    • Extra expenses coverage
  • Most business insurance policies cover damage caused by wind and optional sewer back up coverage is available for many business locations as well.
  • Storm surge and/or coastal flooding would typically not be covered under a commercial property policy or optional water endorsement.
  • Business interruption (BI) insurance is an optional, add-on to an existing business insurance policy. In the event of a business temporarily needing to shut down due to damage caused by an inured peril, BI covers continuing expenses or replaces lost profits, depending upon the coverage purchased.
  • A business interruption policy can cover either named perils or all risks. A named perils policy covers losses caused by perils that are specifically listed in your policy, subject to exclusions. An all risk policy provides protection against loss caused by any risk that is not specifically excluded from your policy.
  • Another important factor to consider is the indemnity period. This is the time period covered for loss of business. There are two basic types: limited and extended.
    • Limited (or earnings): pays only until the damage is repaired or the property is replaced. As soon as your business resumes, the policy stops paying even if the business has not regained its previous level of earnings.
    • Extended (or profits): continues to pay until your business resumes its normal, pre-interruption financial level, subject to the maximum period of indemnity listed in your policy.
  • Business insurance is complex, specialized and specific to your business, which makes it important that you speak to your insurance representative if you have any questions or need clarification about your coverage.