My House Was Damaged by Severe Weather – What Do I Do?

A Severe Storm Has Caused Damage to Your Home:

Most home insurance policies cover damage caused by tornadoes, high winds, lightning strikes and ice storms. Coverage is for damage to the structure as well as to the contents inside.

For information about water damage from heavy rain and spring melt, check out our water damage claims page.

If damage is minor (the house is safe to stay in):

If there’s a storm and the worst damage is something like broken windows or a downed fence, and there doesn’t seem to be any imminent danger to you or your family…

  1. Take steps to minimize further damage. Board up broken windows if you can, to avoid water getting in and causing damage inside the house. Keep receipts for all materials and labour if you have someone do it for you. You can claim those costs later.
  2. Do a rough calculation of what it will cost to repair the damage.
  3. Call your broker so they can help you assess whether it’s worthwhile to make a claim.
  4. If you decide to start a claim, call your insurer and they will walk you through next steps.

If damage is major (structural damage, unsafe home):

In a tornado or other severe storm, wind, ice or lightning can cause trees, power lines or other objects to fall on or be propelled into your home. If there is a hole in your roof or exterior walls, or if a large tree or other object is sitting on or leaning over your home, it may be unsafe.

  1. Don’t enter the home. Don’t try to clear debris.
  2. Get to a safe place (maybe a neighbour’s house).
  3. Call your insurance company to start the claim. They will walk you through next steps, including:
    1. Helping you find a place to stay while your home is assessed and/or repaired. (Most home insurance policies will pay for extra costs related to accommodations and food while you’re unable to stay in your home.)
    2. Arranging for temporary fixes to avoid further damage.
    3. Arranging for an adjuster to come assess the damage and start repairs.

If there’s damage to your possessions:

It’s fairly rare that a storm would cause significant damage inside your home. If there’s a hole in the roof or broken windows and rain water gets in, water damage would usually be covered if it was all one storm. However, if a storm damages your roof and it can’t be fixed right away, you need to arrange to have it temporarily sealed (usually with a tarp) within a reasonable amount of time. If you don’t and water gets into your home during a subsequent rainfall, that damage may not be covered.

If you do suffer damage to your possessions inside the house, when it’s safe to do so, try to get photos of the damaged items. Have the photos show where the items were and how they were damaged. (If there’s a big hole in the roof directly above your damaged table, take a photo that shows both the hole and the table). Also, try to gather any receipts you can, to help with your claim.

Do you have an up-to-date home inventory?

It’s always a good idea to keep an up-to-date inventory of your possessions, in case you ever have a contents insurance claim. The more detailed, the better. Receipts are helpful. Photos or video are also great. Keep all this documentation somewhere other than your home, so it’s not lost in a fire etc. When it comes time to make a claim, you will use this documentation to make your claim go more smoothly.


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