When it comes to property damage and severe weather, too few of us consider how devastating high winds can be to our homes. We often think: fires, falling objects, hail – but wind? Canada’s Insurance Institute has estimated that severe weather damage claims payout has doubled every decade or half a decade since 1980. Unfortunately, this is believed to be going up due to climate change having caused a spike in natural weather disaster frequency, as well as more individuals and families choosing to live in high-risk locations. The more claims, and the more expensive they are, the more you can expect to pay for your home insurance premiums – even if you aren’t making any claims.
So, what’s there to know about wind damage? What do you do if high winds have damaged your home? What are the insurance implications? Read on for answers.
Why high winds are hazardous to your home:
How does wind damage your home? Wind is hazardous to your property as well as to any exterior fixtures you have. Your car may also be at risk. High winds can cause branches to tear off trees and fall onto roofs, vehicles, and other property. Uprooted trees can fall into houses and especially strong gales may tear down power lines. High winds can even tear off shingles from your roof, allowing rainwater to spill inside your home and cause additional damages.
Even if you don’t think your home was damaged during a storm, you may want to take a quick walk around your property to check for any fallen branches and debris or give your roof a once-over to ensure no shingling were loosened or torn up. If your roof is older, suspect that there might be some damages and give your local roofing contractor a call.
What to do after wind has damaged your home:
If you have noticed damage to your home or another feature of your property has been impacted by a recent windstorm, what do you do? First: if the damage caused is an immediate threat to you or your family’s health, such as a fallen power line, ensure that you and your loved ones are safe and secure. If your home was severely damaged, evacuate and do not attempt to re-enter unless an authority figure says it is safe to do so. Once you are safe and secure, call your home insurance company. Home insurance policies will vary in terms of what they cover, but generally, one can expect damage that is caused by sudden wind, rain, hail, or even heavy snowfall to be covered.
Note that while your home insurance policy may cover water damage that was caused by rainfall slipping through the cracks of your home left by sudden wind damage, flooding or floodwater may not be covered. Most home insurance policies will specifically exclude flood damage unless you have purchased a flood insurance endorsement. The same goes for earthquakes.
If you have a trailer or mobile home, check your policy, or discuss with your insurance provider to ensure you’ll have coverage. Finally, note that if you cannot re-enter your home due to severe damage, you may qualify for additional living expenses as part of your financial recourse, which you can use to offset necessary expenses like a temporary hotel stay, groceries, clothing, etc.
How to prevent wind damage to your home:
You can’t prevent a severe weather event, but you can take some safety precautions before a potential windstorm to ensure any damage that may occur is mitigated. Consider the following:
- Make sure you have an emergency kit stored somewhere accessible in your home. This should contain enough food and water to last you and everyone in your home around 72 hours. It should also contain flashlights, first-aid kits, important documents, batteries, and prescription medication in case you run out.
- Inform your family of what course of action to take in the event of an emergency. Tell them to go to the lowest floor in the house should a windstorm/tornado hit and to stay far away from the windows and doorways.
- Document all items in your home. If damages do occur, this will expedite the claims’ process. Ensure you write down every item you own, take photos, document, or find receipts.
- Replace your siding or roof with weather-resistant materials. Reinforce the garage door and invest in storm shutters. Secure any loose furniture or fixtures to ensure they won’t fly around and cause damage to your property.
While you cannot prevent a severe weather event, you can reduce your chances of serious damage by preparing your home and family. If damages do occur, make sure you’re safe and secure before calling up your home insurance company to submit a claim.
Finally, while you may not have made a claim in recent history, you may have noticed your home insurance rates have gone up. This is because of an increasing frequency of natural weather disasters, such as windstorms. You can ask your insurer for tips and tricks on how to reduce your costs, like raising your deductible, discussing discounts, or implementing monitoring systems for your home. Unfortunately, we cannot do anything about external factors impacting our insurance costs, but we can take charge of our own situation. Excalibur Insurance is here to answer if you have any questions about wind damage to your home, what is covered under your policy, or your insurance rates.