What to Do if Your Home Is Damaged by a Windstorm

By Craig Sebastiano
A brown dog sitting while the wind blows making his face look funny.

Extreme weather in Canada is a reality and is likely to continue to lead to more headaches and problems for homeowners.

According to Canada’s Insurance Institute, payouts for severe weather damage has doubled every five to 10 years since the 1980s. In the 1980s, the industry paid out an average of less than $100 million in severe weather damage claims. There have been many recent large loss events since, and losses are now 20 times as large as they were back then. It is only expected to get worse because more people live and work in higher risk areas.

Due to the increasing number of claims, it should come as no surprise that home insurance premiums are also on the rise. However, there are some steps you can take to manage your costs.

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Managing your home insurance costs

Insurers charge rates based on the risks that are insured, but there are ways to manage your costs depending on the risks affecting your property. Here are a few tips:

  • Provide updated information. Notify your insurer if you’ve updated the roofing, plumbing, or wiring of your home.
  • Change your deductible. Increasing your deductible is often a good way to lower your premiums. Contact your insurer to see if choosing a different deductible will help.
  • Bundle your coverage. If you have home and auto insurance with different insurers, it’s often less expensive to bundle both policies with one provider.

What a home insurance policy covers

It’s best to check the coverage in your policy as policies will vary, but you can usually expect damage to a home caused by wind, rain, hail, or snow to be covered. These are called insured perils and includes losses caused by falling trees and branches or flying debris too.

A typical home insurance policy may not, however, cover flooding or damage caused by floodwater. These are often uninsured perils that are specifically excluded, unless you’ve purchased additional coverage for this particular risk. As heavy rains may occur during a windstorm, you should consider getting additional coverage for flood-related events.

Damage to a trailer or mobile home caused by wind might be also be covered but you’ll need to check the wording in the policy or confirm with your insurance representative or broker.

If you’re unable to live in your home due to windstorm damage, you may qualify to receive additional living expenses in certain circumstances. This means you can claim the increased costs of food and accommodation if you can’t live in your home while repairs are underway.

Taking precautions to safeguard your home

You can take steps ahead of a potential windstorm or other severe weather event to protect your home. Here are a few tips:

  • Have a family emergency preparedness plan. Every member of the family should know what to do and where to take shelter. They should go to the lowest floor, such as a basement or cellar, in the event of a windstorm or tornado. Stay far away from windows.
  • Create an emergency supply kit. Assemble a home emergency kit with enough supplies to last 72 hours. This kit should include non-perishable food, water, a radio, flashlight, batteries, a first-aid kit, identification, cash, and prescriptions.
  • Prepare your home. There are ways you can get your home ready for severe weather. For instance, you can replace a roof or siding with weather-resistant products, have impact-resistant windows installed, or reinforce the garage door. Around the house, securing garbage cans and patio furniture can prevent them from becoming airborne and potentially cause damage to your house.
  • Create a home inventory. Write down, photograph, or make a video to document your possessions ahead of time. Maintaining a home inventory list will be useful if there is damage to your home.

What to do if your home is damaged by a storm

In the case where severe weather damages your home, you should do the following as part of the claims process:

  • Call your insurance company as soon as possible.
  • Assess and keep track of the damage. Photos are a good way to document everything.
  • Compile a list of all the items that were destroyed or damaged.
  • Collect any receipts, warranties, and proofs of purchase, if possible.
  • Hold onto any receipts for the cleanup. If you’ve had to move out temporarily, keep the receipts for additional living expenses.
  • Ask your insurer how much your additional living expenses are and how long they last.

Once the loss is reported, a claims adjuster will be assigned to you. It could take a little more time than normal if many people in your community have been affected. Your claims adjuster is there to help and will review the documents you provide as well as your losses and go over the process with you. Make notes during your conversation and ask any questions you may have about what’s involved and what you can expect from your home insurance provider.