It’s been a dark, cold week for those living in Toronto and parts of the eastern coast; the aftermath lingers from last Sunday’s ice storm, with roads a slippery hazard and thousands remaining without power.
If you’re lucky enough to have internet access this week, you’ve likely seen the visuals posted by those across the GTA and surrounding areas: branches coated with a thick icy sheen, kids literally skating down the street – and everywhere, snapped branches slumped over power lines and crushed cars.
The challenges of Ice Storm 2013 go beyond getting the affected areas back on the grid – there will be an onslaught on insurance claims in the new year as home and car owners assess their damaged property. And, as we saw in Alberta this summer, some may not have the sufficient coverage needed to recoup their losses.
Not sure if your insurance will leave you out in the cold? Here are the most common ice storm hazards, and the coverage you’ll need.
Hazard 1: Accidents from driving on ice
What you’ll need: Collision insurance
Fortunately, with the exception of older car models, most drivers are sure to have this type of coverage, which covers the actual cash value of your car should it hit another vehicle or other object. “The most significant damage that occurred to cars would have been collisions on the road because of the slippery ice,” says Sean Graham, principal broker at KTX Financial.
Hazard 2: Your windshield is cracked by flying ice pellets
What you’ll need: Comprehensive coverage
This is an optional addition to your auto insurance policy that protects against Specified Perils such as fire, theft, hail, flooding, earthquakes and other natural disasters, subject to a deductible. Such coverage will also financially protect against falling objects and vandalism.
Hazard 3: Your car has been crushed under a fallen tree
What you’ll need: Comprehensive coverage
“I know that many cars were damaged by falling trees,” says Graham. “Damage by falling objects is covered under comprehensive coverage, which is an optional coverage that most people will have unless their vehicle is much older.”
Hazard 4: A Tree has fallen on your home
What you’ll need: Building coverage
Homeowners with All-Risk Coverage will likely be covered for any damage caused by fallen trees; this type of policy covers everything, with the exception of events specifically named in the policy. After a natural disaster such as this, it’s important for owners to check their policies and ensure that they are indeed covered. It’s especially crucial for those with Named-Perils coverage, which, while including the most common types of events such as fire, flooding and theft, is limited to only events listed in the policy.
Hazard 5: A fallen tree from your property has damaged your neighbour’s property
What you’ll need: Liability coverage
This is automatically included in all forms of home, tenant and condo insurance, and will cover the financial cost of repairing any accidental damage imposed by yourself or your property to others.
Hazard 6: Your fridge is out of commission, and your food is spoiling
What you’ll need: Home insurance
Those with home insurance will have a bit of help here – policies generally cover food spoilage, up to a predetermined amount.
Hazard 7: You’ve spent a few days in a hotel due to no power at home
Sorry – it’s unlikely you’ll get any compensation for this one. While home insurance policies will cover relocation expenses due to covered losses like fire or flooding, the home has to be deemed truly uninhabitable to be eligible. While you may not enjoy wearing eight sweaters and sitting in the dark, it might be a tough sell to your insurance company.
Still In The Dark? Top Safety Tips
Hydro companies have been working around the clock to restore power to those affected – a tall order considering the numbers (195,000 in Toronto, 58,000 in surrounding Ontario, 40,000 in Quebec and 44,000 in New Brunswick). It has been warned that the lights may not come on again until this weekend for some. If you’re still in the dark, here’s what you need to do now:
– Use caution and care around candles, portable heaters and generators.
– Limit the number of times that fridges and freezers are opened to minimize food spoilage. Alternatively, take frozen food and pack it in coolers to store outside.
– To avoid freezing pipes, keep the tap on so a small amount of water continues to flow through the pipes or turn off the water at the source and drain the taps. Flush toilets so water is drained from the appliance.