This Wednesday’s windstorm in Southern Ontario left a trail of destruction and at least 100,000 without electricity. Wind gusts of up to 100km per hour toppled fences, brought down trees, ripped siding from homes, and blew shingles from roofs throughout the province. Fortunately, no serious injuries were reported, but insurance claims will be sky high.
Last March a windstorm in in southern Ontario resulted in almost $100 million insured damage.
With this week’s storm, we’ve received a lot of calls from some clients regarding wind damage. If you’re unsure of where to start when your property is damaged from wind, here are some of the key things to consider:
Shingles blown off of the roof
- You are free to contact a roofer of your own choosing to provide emergency services. Only emergency repairs should be made that prevent further damage, as your insurance company will need to be able to evaluate the full extent of damage and recommend repair options.
- Emergency services should include only what is necessary to prevent water infiltration. This usually means tarps and temporary shingle patches.
- Be sure to have your roofers provide you with photos of the damages prior to completing emergency services.
- Keep a copy of the roofer’s report and any receipts for emergency services.
- You don’t have to leave the roof in a damaged state for the insurance company’s roofer to come see. But again, only do what is necessary to prevent further damages.
- You’re entitled to claim only affected slopes of the roof. Not a full roof replacement if only one slope is affected.
A fence that has fallen as a result of wind is covered under the dwelling portion of your insurance coverage. Take note that:
- The insurance covers the portion of the fence that you are responsible for, subject to your policy deductible. This means if you share your fence with a neighbour, your policy will cover half of the cost, and your neighbours policy covers the other. Each of you pay your deductible to your respective companies.
- The insurance will respond only to the damaged portion of the fence. If only one or two sections are affected, those will be replaced or repaired. Unaffected areas will not be replaced to match. If you want to take the opportunity to replace the balance of your fence, you may do so at your own expense.
- If fallen sections of the fence can be reused they will be. If a section of the fence has fallen to the ground and the post broke, the insurance will replace the post and reattach the fallen section. Just because it fell on the ground doesn’t mean it needs to be thrown out and replaced.
- The tree itself is not covered for wind damage. What’s covered is anything the tree damaged when it fell, such as your home or fence.
- Insurance won’t cover the cost of chopping up and removing fallen trees from your property. You are, however, covered for the removal from the damaged items so they can be assessed and repaired.
- It doesn’t matter whose tree falls on your property. If it’s the neighbour’s tree, you still claim under your own policy and pay your own deductible.
- If a tree has created an opening in your home, it’s ok to contact a contractor to provide emergency services. As with other damage to your property, only emergency repairs should be made before your insurer can inspect the full extent of damage.
- Additional Living Expenses don’t cover hotels or other costs associated with leaving your home for power outages unless there is physical damage to your dwelling itself. For example, if a hydro mast is pulled from the home by a fallen tree.
- Food spoilage is also common. This coverage always has limits and the deductible may or may not apply depending on the company.
We can’t control the weather, but we can minimize the risks of resulting windstorm damage to our property. Be sure to:
- Secure outdoor furniture and other loose items to prevent them from becoming dangerous projectiles.
- During a storm, park your vehicle away from trees, and even streetlights and power lines if possible.
- Maintain trees on your property with regular pruning and inspection for weaknesses.
- Watch for torn or loose shingles on your roof to prevent addition wind and water damage.
Severe weather is the number one risk to property owners in Ontario. Every season brings with it its own series of severe weather events, so the right coverage is crucial to your financial security.
If you have questions about your coverage, speak with your broker who can properly evaluate your risks and advise you on keeping your claims—and your home insurance rates—down.