Severe thunderstorms—damaging wind gusts, large hail and torrential rain—seem to be increasingly common, and when they cause damage will you be covered?

Wind and Hail Damage To Your Home or Auto

Damage to your home caused by wind or hail is usually covered by your home insurance policy, and this includes if your home is damaged by falling tree branches or flying debris that are whirling around from high winds.

Damage to your auto, however, will only be covered if your auto insurance policy includes comprehensive or all perils coverage. It's an optional coverage, so if you want to be sure your car is protected from foul weather, it may be worth adding to your policy if you don't already have it.

Water Damage To Your Home

Water damage coverage, or lack thereof, is complicated. The cause behind why your home flooded will determine whether or not you're covered for damages.

The Cause: Overland floods

Overland flooding occurs when rivers, streams or lakes breach their normal banks and overflow causing flooding in nearby homes. Whether it's due to snow melt, or heavy, torrential downpours, unfortunately for homeowners, damage caused by overland flooding is not typically covered. However, this may be changing. A few home insurers have recently introduced an overland flooding endorsement that can be added to a policy. For now this added coverage is only available to homeowners in Alberta and Ontario if they purchase it. However, it's availability is expected to expand across the country eventually as well.

The Cause: Heavy, Torrential Downpours

A properly maintained home should be able to withstand everyday storms and rainfalls, but when a there's an unusual extreme rainfall, even some of the best maintained homes won't keep the rain out. If you live in Toronto, chances are you remember the storm of 2013 where more rain fell in two hours than Toronto usually sees during an entire July. Some parts of the city saw more than 100 mm of rain in the two hour timeframe; breaking many rainfall records. Extreme events like these that cause damage to your home, typically would be covered.

The Cause: Sewer Back-up

Sewer back-up occurs when the city or municipal drainage system overflows and sends water back through the pipes and into your home. This may happen for a variety of reasons, but the most common is a torrential rainfall that overwhelms the system. If your sewer backs up into your basement, you will be covered, so long as your home insurance policy includes the sewer back-up endorsement.

Remember when? articles on severe weather in Canada:

Water Damage To Your Vehicle

Like wind and hail, if your auto insurance policy includes comprehensive coverage then water damage is usually covered. What's comprehensive coverage? It's an optional coverage that covers repairs for damages to your vehicle that are caused by something other than a collision - like theft, vandalism, or nasty weather.

Minimizing Flood Damage

The Insurance Bureau of Canada has prepared a number of consumer brochures to help you avoid, or minimize flood damage. The following is a compilation of some of those tips.

Before a flood happens

  • Move valuables from the basement to upper floors.
  • Install a sump pump.
  • Install backwater valves or plugs for drains, toilets and other sewer connections.
  • Make sure your yard is properly graded so that water can drain away from your basement walls.
  • Make sure downspouts extend at least six feet (about two metres) from your basement wall.

During and After a flood happens

  • Move valuables from the basement to upper floors.
  • Shut off electricity to areas of the home that is getting flooded.
  • Do not stack wet items on dry items just to get them off the floor.
  • Dry the flooded area within a few days to prevent mould growth.
  • If the water is from a freshwater source, quickly retrieve from the flooded area any valuables.
  • If the flood source originates from the septic system, avoid contact with the water and do not cross-contaminate unaffected areas by walking in and out of the contaminated areas.
  • Do not try to drive over a flooded road; you cannot tell how deep it is and could get stranded.
  • If your car stalls in rising waters, get out and make your way to higher ground.

Don't let water damage rain on your parade. Be sure you know what is and isn't covered under your home insurance policy.

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