Trees crashed down onto a building at Michener Centre during the June 20 windstorm in Red Deer.

Red Deer windstorm serves as reminder to check insurance policies

‘We don’t think to update some of our insurance policies’

The severe storm that tried to shut down Red Deer and other parts of Central Alberta in June serves as a reminder to people to check their insurance policies.

The windstorm, which saw sudden winds in excess of 110 km/h on June 20, downed many large trees in Red Deer, some that ended up on roofs and vehicles. The wind damaged numerous properties as well, stripping shingles and parts of buildings at will, even destroying a greenhouse operation just east of the city.

The City of Red Deer declared a local state of emergency for five days because of prolonged power outages, and it continues to clean up hazardous forested areas.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada said the storm resulted in $30 million in claims. Innisfail and Pine Lake areas were also affected.

“Don’t wait till the storm hits to find out what your policy covers you for. Every time we get these kinds of storms, I remind people to take this opportunity to check your own coverage if you weren’t affected,” said Anne Marie Thomas, an insurance expert with InsuranceHotline.com, an online insurance comparison website.

“Take 10 minutes to chat with your insurance broker to make sure you have the right coverage in place because, sometimes with our insurance, we just buy it and we keep paying it, and as things in our lives change, we don’t think to update some of our insurance policies.”

“Most home insurance policies will cover damage caused by wind and seeing the footage that I’ve seen from Red Deer, those were some crazy winds,” she said from Toronto on Tuesday.

Another thing to remember is that if a downed tree falls on your car, it’s typically covered under vehicle insurance, not home insurance.

“Make sure that your roof doesn’t have any curling or lifting shingles because what could happen, if your roof was already in need of repair, and a windstorm like this came through and blew the roof off, your insurance company might not pay to replace your whole roof,” Thomas said.

Since the majority of people have a cellphone, she recommends people take photos and/or video of damage before they start cleaning it up.

She said before anything ever happens, people should shoot video of their possessions — such as that 65-inch television — to help corroborate claims, and even take a photo of their policy, and keep it stored safely somewhere. Insurance companies do have copies of individual polices as well.

Up until the major flooding occurred in 2013 in Southern Alberta, including Calgary, Canadians could not purchase overland flood insurance because it just wasn’t available. Insurance companies have now responded by creating that coverage, she said.

Thomas said no part of Canada is escaping dramatic weather these days, and it is becoming more frequent and more severe.

barr@reddeeradvocate.com

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