Around this time in 2010, my parents were recovering after an almost-two-month saga with the Richelieu River in what would come to be known in Quebec as the worst flooding in 70 years. My parents are retired but they worked day and night to limit the damage caused by high waters that never seemed to recede. They had to turn to government assistance since flooding wasn’t covered by their insurance policy.
Acts of God
Often called “acts of God,” natural disasters strike without warning and they don’t discriminate. They often cause huge physical damage and are rough on morale. And although such events can be neither foreseen nor avoided here in Quebec, we can at least protect ourselves from them.
In fact, except for flooding, which is insured only by a very few policies (commercial insurance and some high-end housing policies), natural disasters are insurable on your home or business policies.
It’s certainly troubling to see pictures of American cities devastated by tornadoes, hurricanes and cyclones. It is sometimes difficult to differentiate between these big weather events, but they all leave the same devastation in their wake. Quebec only ever gets the tail ends of these storms, but their damage can still be significant: trees uprooted, roofs torn off, windows broken, etc. Luckily, except for a few exclusions (like satellite dishes) all such damage will be reimbursed by your insurer. The reason why brokers rarely mention this is that most policies include protection against windstorms as a basic feature. That’s not the case for earthquakes, however.
Surprisingly, in the past few years, we have felt a few earthquakes. Even more surprising though is the huge number of earthquakes we don’t feel at all! Earthquake Canada records hundreds every year. Fortunately for us, few do damage.
If a more vigorous earthquake ever hit our area, we have to wonder if the government would offer assistance since, unlike flooding, it is possible to insure against this disaster. Take the time to talk with your broker about the various earthquake protections your insurer offers.
The very worst
When they hit, these disasters leaves material and psychological damage in their wake. People spend weeks cleaning up, rebuilding and getting back on their feet. But although it may be distressing to see family photos floating in the water, to find landscaping uprooted and blown several metres away by strong winds or to come upon glassware shattered on the floor by an earthquake, it is even sadder to watch all your belongings being engulfed in flames.
A fire doesn’t just leave inner scars and bad memories. Insurers understand this. That is why, even if a fire is caused by flooding, severe wind or earthquake, you will be compensated regardless of its cause (that is, unless you lit it on purpose, of course!)
Be ready: take pictures of your belongings and give a copy to a friend or leave a copy on a cloud-based email account. In the event of a fire, you’ll still have access to this proof.
Today, it is Albertans who are defending their homes against rising waters. Like my parents and many Quebecers, they will forever be a little more anxious as spring arrives. Our thoughts are with them.