The two tornados that hit Ottawa and Gatineau on Friday left hundreds of thousands of people without power and many with destroyed homes, but it’s still too early to tell what repairs will end up costing both residents and insurers.
In Ottawa, locals have compared the tornados to the historic ice storm that engulfed the city in 1998 in terms of how much damage they caused. The 1998 storm cost a staggering $5 billion in damages, the Ottawa Citizen said, leaving 35 people dead and nearly 1.5 million homes without power.
There have already been a string of costly storms in Ontario this year. In August, a rainstorm that tore across the Greater Toronto Area and other parts of the province incurred $80 million in damages, according to a report from the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). In May, a windstorm that fell on Ontario and Quebec cost insurers alone $410 million.
While the amount of damage that took place over the weekend is still being assessed, it’s clear that repair costs are going to be high.
For those who are lucky enough to have home insurance, the IBC said on Saturday that documenting as much of the damage incurred as possible is key. The association advised policyholders to take photos, make a list of their damaged or destroyed items, and hold onto as many receipts as possible (including any receipts for cleanup services).
“Most home and business insurance policies cover damage caused by a windstorm or tornado,” the IBC said in a statement.
“If residents have to leave their homes because of a mandatory evacuation order issued by civil authorities, most home and tenants' insurance policies will provide coverage for reasonable additional living expenses for a specified period of time.”
For people without insurance, other organizations are jumping in with offers of emergency loans to victims. Desjardins and Alterna Savings and Credit Union are both offering emergency loans — Alterna won’t charge customers any interest for the first 90 days — and Desjardins is additionally allowing existing customers in the affected regions to defer their mortgage, consumer loan, credit card, and home and auto insurance payments.
The Electrical Safety Authority has meanwhile provided a list of tips for homeowners on how to check for electrical damage. The list can be found here.