More extreme weather expected in Atlantic region, says insurance bureau VP

Homeowners urged to be aware of what their policy covers

Daniel MacEachern dmaceachern@thetelegram.com
Published on September 10, 2013

The Atlantic vice-president of the Insurance Bureau of Canada says homeowners should review their insurance policies before storms hit so they know what they are — and aren’t — covered for.

Amanda Dean said Monday in St. John’s that the bureau — the national trade association for home, car and business insurers — commissioned a report last year that suggests severe weather events will get steadily worse during the next 40 years.

“For the Atlantic region, including Newfoundland and Labrador, that means more hurricanes,” she said. “And if some of the predictions we’ve been hearing, certainly from meteorologists and other folks … this is going to be quite the hurricane season coming upon us this fall. We want to talk a bit about what consumers can do in advance of having to put in such a claim, so things you can do, knowing what you’re covered for, knowing your home insurance policy.”

Brokers and agents are there to walk people through their policy, said Dean, who pointed to sewage backups as an example of something that’s covered by some policies, but not by others, so it’s best for homeowners to make sure they’re aware of what they’re covered for.

“Heavy amounts of rain can fall in a short period of time,” she said. “That overwhelms any system, and sewage and other waste water can back up into homes through the drains in the floors, the toilets, the sinks.”

Dean said it isn’t about encouraging people to buy more insurance, but about making sure they have coverage that fits their needs.

“It’s your possession. Let’s be honest: buying a home is probably the most expensive investment that we’re going to make in our lives,” she said. “Some folks, if you’ve had the mortgage paid off for years and you don’t have insurance, just think of what could happen financially. You could potentially be ruined during a hurricane. A tree limb tears off, comes through your roof and causes an extensive amount of damage. Where are you going to get the money from to repair that home?”

Since insurance is essentially a pool of money that might have many people drawing from it, said Dean, it’s in everyone’s interests to try to keep claims down so it’s there when it’s needed in times of major disasters, such as 2010’s hurricane Igor or the recent Alberta floods.

Dean said the bureau has a consumer information line for the Atlantic region: 1-800-565-7189, ext. 227. Questions about specific policies should go to an individual’s specific insurance supplier, though.

dmaceachern@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelegramDaniel