Friday's windstorm in Southern Ontario left a trail of destruction and hundreds of thousands without electricity. Wind gusts in excess of 90km/hr knocked over fences, brought down trees, ripped siding from homes and blew shingles from roofs throughout the province. This has resulted in a significant number of property claims being reported. Over the weekend we’ve received a high volume of calls from clients regarding wind damage. If you’re unsure of where to start when your property is damaged from wind, here are some key things you need to know:
Most home insurance policies include damage caused by hail and wind. If you have a comprehensive home insurance policy, you simply need to look at the exclusions, to see if hail or wind is excluded. If not, they’re covered.
Wind damage to your home is covered on most policies. But there are often some conditions. For instance, if shingles blow off in a windstorm, you may not be paid the full cost to replace it if it was fairly close to its life expectancy. If wear and tear was partially responsible for the roof being susceptible to damage, depreciation may be applied to your settlement. Any damage that is a result of regular wear and tear is not covered by insurance. Or, if a windstorm knocks over a tree and it falls onto your house, the policy will often cover the damage to your home, but it will not pay to remove or replace the tree. Damage to radio antennae and satellite dishes is also commonly excluded if the damage is caused by wind. Home insurance wordings are not always the easiest to read or understand, so to find out exactly what you’re insured for, you may need to contact your insurance broker.
Ensure there are no wires down on the premises and be wary of electrical switches. Do not turn anything on in the affected area until a licensed electrician checks the system. Boarding up holes and shutting off water supplies to the affected area can also prevent further damage. If your home has become uninhabitable due to the damage, hold onto receipts for any reasonable increase in living expenses.
It depends on what you are disposing of. Some debris can be thrown out, other materials may require special pick up, which could be arranged by the municipality if a large area has been impacted and you should check with your municipality for these types of notices. Make a list and take pictures of everything that is damaged or thrown away (e.g. building samples such as flooring). Fallen trees: most insurance companies will pay to remove fallen trees from an insured structure, which includes cutting the tree up into manageable pieces and placing them on your lawn near the curb. However disposal is the homeowners responsibility.
You can’t control the weather, but you can minimize further damage to your property resulting from wind damage: