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Catastrophic Events and Your Insurance – Lessons from the Ottawa Tornado

Ottawa tornado disaster


On September 21, 2018, a windstorm and tornados pummelled the Ottawa-Gatineau area. It was a highly unusual weather event and the magnitude of its damage was suggested to be similar to the ice storm in 1998, one of the most costly insurance events in Canada after the fire in Fort McMurray (source: Canadian Underwriter). With climate change we are seeing more and more erratic weather patterns, adversely affecting citizens of countries around the world, and their homes and businesses. In this post, we want to discuss catastrophic events as they relate to insurance and cover some important learnings that can be gleaned from the unfortunate happenings in South Eastern Ontario, a region still reeling from the aftermath of the tornado.

Insurance lessons from the Ottawa tornado

~ Most home insurance policies cover damage caused by wind and tornado. However, it’s a good idea to consult with your insurance provider and check to make sure that tornado and other catastrophes are covered in your plan. You should also double check on structures on your property outside of your actual house, such as outbuildings or fences.

~ Most home insurance plans will cover living expenses if you are forced to evacuate your house. Same goes for tenant insurance. But again, all plans differ so it’s important to discuss the details with your broker or provider, including how long your additional living costs will be covered.

~ If you are in the unfortunate situation of having to make a claim on your home insurance due to a catastrophic event, be sure to do the following: document the damage and take photos, make a list of everything that was damaged or destroyed, keep the damaged items if possible, keep all receipts for costs related to the event (e.g. receipts for cleanup on your property, hotel receipts etc.). The same would apply for a business.

~ A disheartening piece of news coming out of the aftermath of the storm was the reports of scammers targeting victims of the tornado – contractors either misrepresenting themselves (such as claiming to be legitimate professionals when they are not) or attempting to charge exorbitant fees for their work. It seems that disasters can attract the unscrupulous trying to take advantage of the misfortune of others. If you ever find yourself in a disaster situation, keep this is in mind and take these steps to protect yourself from fraud: ask for ID and the file from your insurance company, check with your insurer who they have sent to your home or business, ask lots of questions and ask for references, and beware of anyone who shows up at your door unannounced asking you to commit to services.

~ How about your car? Generally auto insurance policies with comprehensive coverage would cover any damage to the vehicle in a situation such as this, but consult with your provider to confirm.

~ If your business’ building is affected and you experience business interruption, your commercial insurance policy should cover this, but again policies can vary widely so get in touch with your company or broker to ascertain the specifics of your coverage.


~ Ontario & Quebec Windstorm & Tornado – Advice and information from Insurance Bureau of Canada

~ Watch out for scammers, IBC warns Ottawa-Gatineau tornado victims – Canadian Underwriter

~ What made the Dunrobin tornado so unique – Canadian Underwriter

And for more information in regards to different disaster scenarios, check out this resource from the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

We at Insurance Buddy send out our thoughts and well wishes to those affected by the tornado. We pray that this will not happen again in our province. If you have any questions at all about your insurance coverage during a disaster, or need any help in the aftermath of this particular event, please don’t hesitate to contact our team for assistance.


Image Source: |  David Castillo Dominici


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