Was your home damaged by the Ontario storm? Insurance companies say payouts could take weeks to process

The insurance industry says it could take up to six weeks to get an idea of how many hundreds of millions of dollars in pay outs will be required from the weekend storm that brought death and destruction to Ontario and Quebec, but that early estimates are substantial.

“We don’t have the damage estimates yet, but just within the last hour it has been declared a catastrophe from an insurance perspective” Anne Marie Thomas, director of consumer and industry relations with the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), told CTV News Toronto Wednesday.

The high winds that took down trees and power lines will lead to major claims and insurance companies say they’re trying to process them as quickly as possible, but there’s also expected to be hidden damage or minor claims that some homeowners will pay themselves.

In Ottawa, trees snapped and crashed onto the roof of Al Rhoades’ home and he said he only recently got through to his insurance company.

“I don’t know what order things are going to happen in. I’m waiting for an adjuster, a crane and a restoration company,” he said.

In Uxbridge, it may take even longer to get the community back to how it was before it was hit with tornado strength winds.

IBC said what’s important for those affected by the storm is to know that wind damage is covered under most policies.

“Wind damage is covered under the typical home insurance policy and we know it was a tornado that touched down in Uxbridge and that would fall under the peril of wind,” Thomas said.

The insurance industry believes there will be a mix in the severity of claims – everything from major damage to homes and property, to spoiled food, missing shingles or damaged patio furniture.

If you file a claim, you will have to pay your deductible and it will count as a claim on your insurance policy.

“By the time you subtract your deductible and the claims free discount you may find it’s not worth it to make a claim, but it’s a personal decision and everyone’s financial position is different,” Thomas said.

It’s best to take photos and video of the damage, try to prevent further damage by boarding up windows or stopping leaks and save receipts and documentation. You should also get repair estimates if necessary and contact your insurance company soon as possible.

“The insurance adjusters will get back to you. They’re working their way through a lot,” Thomas said.

If you have to leave your home you can also be reimbursed for hotel stays, meals and other expenses.

It may also be a good time to check your home insurance coverage and you can do that through your provider or you can also check with IBC. You can call or email them about any wind or other insurance related questions. 

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