Toronto Ice Storm, December 22, 2013 From Southern Ontario, through to Quebec and the Maritimes, the ice storm that hit the region just days prior to Christmas left several hundred thousand homes in the dark and residents in the cold. As lives slowly return to normal and the ice thaws, what can be learned from the ice storms that hit?

  1. If your auto policy includes Comprehensive or All-Perils coverage, damage caused to your car from fallen trees or branches will likely be covered.

    Comprehensive or All-Perils coverage is optional, but if you have it, will likely pay for losses stemming from damages caused by a fallen tree or branch. There is usually a deductible.

    Flying ice too
    Same is true for flying ice. Too many drivers didn't take the time to clear off their car properly resulting in mounds of ice flying off while driving (especially at high speeds). If you had the misfortune of driving behind one of these icicle-cars and yours was damaged as a result, you would be covered if you have Comprehensive or All-Perils.
  2. Many drivers need a refresher on what to do at an intersection when the traffic lights are no longer working.

    When traffic lights are no longer working, treat the intersection like an all-way (or four-way) stop. It's the same as approaching an intersection with four stop signs at each corner where you'll "yield the right-of-way to the first vehicle to come to a complete stop. If two vehicles stop at the same time, the vehicle on the left must yield to the vehicle on the right". Take your time at each intersection and proceed with caution. The Ontario Driver's Handbook can be viewed online for free if in need of a refresher (it includes diagrams too which are handy.)
  3. Damage to your home caused from a fallen tree or branch will generally be covered.

    According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), "Damage to homes caused by snow, rain or wind is generally covered. This includes damage caused by flying debris or falling branches or trees, or damage to your home and its contents when water or snow enters through openings caused by high winds."
  4. Hotel bills may not be covered by your property insurance policy.

    People who opted to escape the cold confines of their home for the warmth of a hotel room may find they are not covered for the hotel bill.

    "If they're going to a hotel because of insurable damage to their home or if they're forced to leave their homes by a police order," they may be entitled to additional living expenses, IBC spokesman Steve Kee told

    However, if checking into a hotel for the sake of comfort only, the bills would generally not be covered.
  5. Coverage for damages to your home caused by frozen water pipes isn't a clear cut yes or no.

    This one is a tough one to answer, as there are caveats. So to be sure, 100% sure, talk to your broker, agent or insurer. In general, a sudden and accidental escape of water from plumbing would be covered. However, it may not be if there were precautions that could have been taken, but weren't.

    For example, if you left your home during the outage and were away for a few days, there's a chance you would not be covered for damages coming from frozen pipes, unless you:
    • Arranged for someone to check the home daily; and
    • Shut off the main water valve and drained all the pipes.
    If you opted to stay in your home, you would be expected to also take precautions. The most widely reported, and recommended by the City of Toronto was to open the taps slightly (usually at the lowest level of the house like in the basement), so that there was a steady trickle of water flowing.

    Policy wording will vary, so it's best to know for sure and go to the source.
  6. Spoiled food may be covered by your home insurance.

    Some home insurance policies provide coverage for food that spoils from events like power outages; events that are unavoidable. Depending on the policy, coverage can be up to $2,000.

    Before tossing the contents of your refrigerator and freezer call your broker, agent or insurer. If your home insurance includes coverage for food spoilage, you'll want to know what they need to submit a claim.
  7. Adversity often brings out the best in us: grocery retailers

    Replacing the cost of what's in your refrigerator or freezer can be a hardship; and special mention to the grocery retailers who stepped up and donated money to help those in need is one lesson that shouldn't be overlooked.

    Loblaws was the first to donate $25,000 toward grocery store gift cards, followed by Shoppers Drug Mart, Metro and Sobeys who all matched Loblaw's contribution of $25,000. The Coppa Family (Highland Farms) also donated gift cards, $5,000 worth. The government of Ontario matched the donations.

    Learn more about the 2013 ice storm food gift card donations in Ontario.

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