Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Sandy, B.C. Quakes a Wake Up Call to Check Home Insurance Policies

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Sandy, B.C. Quakes a Wake Up Call to Check Home Insurance Policies

Article excerpt

Check for flood, earthquake coverage

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CALGARY - A dangerous storm in the east and powerful earthquakes in the west have likely caused more than a few Canadians to dig out their home insurance policies in recent weeks to double-check their coverage.

"Even I did it," said Anne Marie Thomas with Insurancehotline.com, a website that compares rates from various insurers.

"Oh Jeez -- I'd better make sure that I have the coverage that I think that I have."

Thomas spoke to The Canadian Press from Toronto, one of the cities hit by superstorm Sandy's vicious winds and heavy rains last week.

What damage is covered -- and what's not -- varies from policy to policy. Even the same provider might offer varying degrees of coverage in different packages.

Most standard home insurance policies would have covered wind damage from the storm, whether the gusts tore off siding or shingles or uprooted a tree.

But if your roof was in a state of disrepair before the storm, don't count on an insurance claim to fix it.

"Your insurance company may say to you 'we're not going to pay to replace your shingles because they were 40 years old. That's a maintenance issue. Regardless of Sandy they would have blown off in time anyway,'" said Thomas.

It's worth double checking whether you're covered in the event a storm causes raw sewage to back up into your home -- a nasty occurrence Thomas said she has had to deal with in the past.

"I lived in an older neighbourhood and we had a lot of mature trees on our street. The roots blocked the sewer drainage pipes and we had a lot of rainfall and the raw sewage literally backed up into my basement -- so vile," she said.

"Fortunately my broker was wonderful and had sold me sewer backup coverage. If I didn't have that additional coverage purchased I would not have had any coverage for cleaning up that mess in my basement."

While homeowners generally have insurance to begin with, renters tend to be a little more cavalier.

Many might believe it's not worth it to insure their apartments, if they've only got only a few thousand dollars worth of possessions anyway.

But it's important to realize you're on the hook if something on your property causes damage to someone else's -- for instance, if wind sends your patio umbrella crashing into a neighbour's living room window. …

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