The Aftermath of the Ice Storm, and Your Insurance Policy

For weeks now areas of Quebec, southern Ontario, and largely, Toronto and the GTA have been first dealing with the horrific ice storm, and then the aftermath that went along with it. Power outages lasting over a week, gift cards for food being handed out by the government, only to run out each and every day for those who truly need it, and damage to property accompanied by the familiar questions of who’s responsible for the cleanup – and paying for that cleanup. And if you’re one of those unlucky homeowners, you might be disappointed to find out that your insurance company might not be as big a help as you were hoping they would be.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has warned homeowners of things that may be covered under their homeowner insurance policy, and what might not be. And they don’t want homeowners to be setting themselves up for disappointment.

If your home has been damaged by ice, or if a tree has fallen onto your property, the Bureau says that there’s a very good chance that you’re going to be covered for it. And if ice, snow, or water has found an opening into your home and caused damage, especially if that entry was due to high winds, they say that you probably are also covered.

However, the situation becomes a little trickier if it’s a neighbour’s tree that has caused the damage. Then, the damage to the home might not be covered by your own insurance, but your neighbour’s. In this case, the Bureau says that you need to take pictures so that you can show the damage done to their insurance company, or your own.

The Bureau also warns that along with knowing what your insurance will cover, you also need to know how much you’ll be expected to pay upfront. Most policies have a $500 deductible according to the Bureau, but yours could be much more depending on what you agreed on at the time you took the policy out.

And those costs that are an indirect result of the outage such as food spoilage or burst water pipes? The Bureau says that while those expenses might be covered, costs such as hotel rates when your home was unlivable might not be.

The key is to check your insurance policy very carefully, and then call (when you can) your company to find out what’s what. For good or bad, you might be surprised at the coverage you have.