When a Tornado Touches Down, Your Home Insurance Will Help Pick Up the Pieces

By Lesley Green
A graphic of an umbrella covering a home.

It’s official. A tornado ripped through a part of Barrie, Ontario, on Thursday.

Environment Canada has given the tornado a preliminary EF-2 rating with wind speeds up to 210 km/h. They’ve estimated the damage path to be about five kilometres long and up to 100 metres wide at some points.

The damage is extensive for the homes hit. For some, it will be a matter of repairs, but for others, it will be a case of rebuilding. In both scenarios, the homeowner’s home insurance coverage will help them pick up the pieces.

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Getting the insurance claims process started

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) released a statement to help those affected with tips on how to get the claims process started.

“This is a traumatic event,” said Kim Donaldson, Vice-President, Ontario, IBC. “Rest assured that anyone whose property or vehicle was damaged can contact their insurance representative when they are ready to start the claims process.”

When you contact your insurance representative, they’ll be able to confirm exactly what coverage you have and the extent for which you’re insured. However, damage to your home from a tornado should be covered, as will damage from the winds and rains that preceded the tornado and followed it. Most home insurance policies also cover:

  • Damage from flying debris or fallen trees and branches.
  • Losses to your home and possessions from water entering through openings suddenly caused by wind, like through broken windows or roofs that are torn off.

Since some homes will be uninhabitable, homeowners should also inquire about the additional living expenses they’re entitled to, as this will help cover some costs while having to live elsewhere until repairs or the rebuild is completed.

When you’re able and only if it’s safe to do so:

  • Assess the damage to your home and document as much as possible. Take photos or a video to show the extent of the damage caused.
  • Keep detailed notes as you navigate the claims process. You’ve been through a lot, and taking notes will help.
  • Keep all receipts, including anything involving clean-up, repairs, and living expenses if you have to live elsewhere temporarily.
  • Start itemizing the possessions you’ve lost and will have to replace.

What happens if your car is damaged?

If your vehicle was damaged from the tornado, it’s your auto insurance policy — not your home insurance policy — that will help offset the costs of repair or replacement, but only if your auto policy includes comprehensive or all perils coverage. This coverage is optional, and not everyone buys it, especially if the insured car is older.

The CBC reports that the City of Barrie has set up a tornado assistance line to help anyone who needs it. The tornado hotline is 705-728-8442.