Wildfires in Halifax
Halifax, Atlantic Canada, May 2023
- Halifax wildfire response
- Media releases
- Wildfire Insurance Q&A
- Insurance during wildfires
- Filing an Insurance Claim
- Additional living expenses
- Food spoilage
- Landlord and Tenant issues and questions
- Choosing a contractor
- Insurance dispute resolution
Halifax wildfire response
Hurricane Fiona remains the most costly extreme weather event ever recorded in Atlantic Canada and is now the seventh largest in Canada's history in terms of insured damages – up from the tenth largest as previously reported. This long-lived and powerful storm first made landfall in Atlantic Canada on Saturday September 24, 2022. With maximum wind gusts exceeding 100 km/h in Atlantic Canada and Eastern Quebec, Hurricane Fiona resulted in tragic loss of life as well as torrential rainfall, large waves, storm surges, downed trees and widespread power outages.
The destructive and deadly storm that swept through Atlantic Canada on September 24 left a large swath of damage to homes, vehicles and businesses.
If your home, car or business was damaged as a result of Hurricane Fiona, 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).
If you have questions about your insurance that aren’t answered here, contact our Customer Information Centre.
June 10, 2023 (HALIFAX) - Returning home: Insurance experts provide tips for wildfire evacuees returning home
Wildfire Insurance Q&A
Insurance during wildfires
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:
alterations to insured limits
major changes to existing policies
Since these restrictions are temporary, they do ease as the threat decreases.
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 a specified number of 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, flood or related damage. This covers a policyholder whose home is unlivable because of damage by an insured peril. Typically this 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 flood situation, 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
Your freezer and its contents may be covered for spoilage caused by an accidental power interruption. Typically, in this situation, your freezer and its contents are insured for a specific amount. Check your policy.
If possible, 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 windstorm 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.
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:
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