What is and isn't covered by insurance after severe weather

The average for annual insured losses due to severe weather in Canada has skyrocketed to $2.2 billion. (Stock Image).
The average for annual insured losses due to severe weather in Canada has skyrocketed to $2.2 billion. (Stock Image). (Stock Image)

Due to changing weather conditions, the number of yearly insured losses from extreme weather in Canada has steadily risen for the past 30 years. While the yearly average for extreme weather losses from 1995 to 1999 was $900 million, the 2015 to 2019 average rose to $2.2 billion.

Not all extreme weather events are covered by Canadian home or vehicle insurance policies. Here’s what you need to know before making a claim.

Weather events covered by home insurance

When deciding what is covered by a basic insurance policy, insurance companies try to minimize their risk by calculating expected claims in an area and whether they will be able to cover them. A significantly large natural disaster, such as an earthquake, could be a large expense for an insurance company. Because of this, insurance companies may often not provide coverage for many extreme weather events in their basic policies.

Most Canadian insurance policies cover wind-related damage from a storm or tornado. If a storm damages your roof, that would probably be covered. Ice and hail damage are also usually covered. However, if the insurance company determines that your home was damaged in a storm because of a lack of proper maintenance on your part, they may deny coverage. Wildfires and other fire-related events are usually included in a home insurance policy as long as they were not caused by negligence.

Home insurance policies usually provide coverage for damages from snowfall or blizzards. Roof damage and roof collapse from snow are also typically covered.

Does insurance cover hurricane damage?

While the damage caused by wind or fallen trees during a hurricane would usually be covered, any damage from a storm surge would not be. Hurricane Fiona caused between $300 million and $700 million in losses in Atlantic Canada in September 2022, but since much of those losses were caused by a sea surge, many of them were not covered by insurance.

Other weather events not covered by insurance

While flooding inside your home from a broken pipe is usually covered, flooding from outside sources would not be. You would need to purchase flood insurance to protect from rain-related floods or overland flooding from melting snow and ice. However, about 5% of Canadian households are at extreme flood risk. If you live in an extremely flood-prone area, you will not be eligible for flood insurance. Be sure to read your policy carefully. Even flood insurance often does not cover saltwater damage, such as the damage sustained during Hurricane Fiona.

Earthquakes are another example of events that are not covered by most home insurance policies. If you live in a high-risk area, you may want to consider purchasing additional earthquake insurance.

Avalanches are usually not covered by home insurance but may be included in some flood insurance policies.

Check your policy

Before filing a claim, review your insurance policy carefully to see what events and circumstances are covered. In addition to your provider’s guidelines on severe weather, review their guidelines on maintenance. If your insurance provider believes the damage was caused due to negligence on your part, they may attempt to deny coverage.