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Severe Weather Insurance Help

If your home, car or business has been damaged by severe weather, once it’s safe to do so, contact your insurance representative. They will answer questions about your policy and help you with your claim. In the meantime, we’ve compiled answers to the most frequently asked questions about insurance coverage following severe weather events.

Insurance claims and disaster recovery

As you pick up the pieces after a severe weather event, your insurance representative will work with you to get life back to normal as quickly as possible. Here’s what you can expect during the insurance claims process.

  • Your insurance company will assign someone to assess damage and prepare an estimated cost of repairs. This could be an adjuster or a property appraiser. Once your adjuster has confirmed coverage, and if the claim is approved, you can schedule the repairs directly with a contractor of your choice or a contractor suggested by your insurer. If you select the contractor, you should speak with your insurance adjuster first to find out how much of the estimate your insurer will pay.

  • Your adjuster will send you a ‘Proof of Loss’ form to complete. This is a declaration of your claim in which you list the property or items that have been damaged or destroyed and their estimated cost.

  • Speak to your adjuster to get an idea of realistic timelines and a full understanding of all the steps in the process. They are there to help guide you with your claim.

Limiting further damage

In the event of loss, policyholders are obligated to protect their property from further damage if it’s safe to do so. For example, board up windows and place tarps over damaged roofs to protect against rain and snow.

Hire a qualified professional if it’s unsafe to do the temporary repairs yourself. Your adjuster may be able to provide names of contractors to help you mitigate further damage.

Home, auto and business insurance claim FAQs

Insurance during severe weather events

During major weather events, insurance companies may initiate temporary limitations on the sale of new policies in areas under imminent threat. Only those in areas that are under imminent threat are commonly subject to temporary restrictions or limitations on the sale of new coverage.

Consumers who want to change their coverage levels during such events may face difficulties. However, renewals of existing policies will continue to take place, regardless of the windstorm threat. Many policies include a ‘Declaration of Emergency Endorsement’, which can extend the expiration date of policies when an emergency is declared by government, and your insurer or insurance representative cannot provide your renewal. This ensures that the existing policy stays in force, typically for an additional 120 days. The purpose of insurance is to protect you from unforeseen events. It is important to have coverage year-round, and not wait for events to occur before trying to secure insurance protection for your home and property.

Some examples of the limitations/restrictions that may be put in place for areas facing a threat from a weather event include:

  • new policies

  • deductible changes

  • alterations to insured limits

  • major changes to existing policies

Since these restrictions are temporary, they do ease as the threat decreases. If you have questions or think you need to adjust limits on your policy, don't wait until an event occurs, as you may not be able to make the changes to your policy until after the imminent threat has passed.

Filing an Insurance Claim

Understanding how to file a claim before you need to can help to reduce the stress in the aftermath of damage or loss.

Home Insurance Claims

Auto Insurance Claims

Additional Living Expenses

Most personal property insurance policies (homeowner, condominium unit owner and tenant) cover the cost of alternate accommodations and living expenses for people whose home has become unliveable after an insured loss. There may also be limited coverage for mass evacuation under certain circumstances.

This is typically called additional living expenses or ALE in an insurance policy. The categories of ALE claims include:

  • Prohibited access because a civil authority has ordered a mass evacuation. This coverage starts on the date of evacuation and typically expires after 14 days. Policyholders should check their own policies for limits.

  • Prohibited access as a direct result of damage to neighbouring premises. This covers a policyholder whose home may not have been damaged but who cannot return because of damage to homes nearby. Policyholders should check their policies or ask their insurance representative to confirm their limit. Insurers will review the duration of coverage on a case-by-case basis.

  • Damage to your home by an insured peril, for example fire, wind or other insured peril. This covers a policyholder whose home is unlivable because of damage from an insured event. Typically covers additional living expenses for a reasonable amount of time needed to repair or rebuild the home or until the policy limit is reached. In a sewer backup and flood loss, policyholders who have purchased optional sewer backup coverage or optional overland flood insurance would have this coverage. Always check with your insurance representative to understand the limits of your coverage.

Additional Living Expenses FAQs

Food spoilage

Your freezer and its contents may be covered for damage related to food spoilage caused by an accidental power interruption. Typically, in this situation, your freezer and its contents are insured for a specific amount. Some may cover the contents of your refrigerator as well your freezer. Check your policy.

Before disposing of food from your freezer, make a list and take photos of the contents for insurance purposes.

If you suspect your freezer is contaminated by food spoilage or other damage, speak to your insurer before discarding the appliance.

Landlord and Tenant Issues and Questions

As a general rule, the first course of action for both tenants and landlords is to talk to each other to resolve any issues they have and to keep everyone safe.

Choosing a Contractor

Many insurers have established relationships with property remediation contractors and can vouch for their reliability and quality of their work. Many insurers also guarantee the work of the service providers they recommend.

You are not obligated to use a company recommended by your insurer. You can use the service provider of your choice for the necessary repairs to your property. But before signing a contract, you should speak with your insurance adjuster to find out how much of the estimate your insurer will pay.

Ensure any contractor you hire is properly licensed and insured. It Is recommended you pay your contractor as work progress and not upfront.

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about contractors.

Insurance dispute resolution

If you have a complaint about your insurer or insurance professional, there are a number of actions you can take to be sure you’re heard and that your issue is resolved. Here are 4 steps to addressing an insurance dispute:

If you’ve just experienced damage due to a severe weather event and have questions, contact our Consumer Information Centre.