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Hurricane insurance: How you are (and aren't) protected

After a hurricane, house insurance will repair damage to your home from falling trees and debris.  However, water is a different beast. For instance, if your basement floods, you could be paying out of pocket for the repairs without an add-on for overland water or sewer backup.

If you don’t have comprehensive insurance on your auto policy, you’ll be forking over cash to fix it.

Hurricane season (between June and November) is alive and more active than usual in the Atlantic ocean. Hurricane Teddy could hit Canada’s East Coast hard. A 2017 study revealed 94% of Canadians in high-risk areas are unaware of their risk.  Here’s how to protect yourself.

Hurricane house insurance

Should a tree or its branches break a window, damage your siding, or tear down your fence, your comprehensive home insurance policy will repair the damage.

Your home insurance protects against a burst water supply pipe, too.

But, for a hurricane, you need to add special flood insurance – and there are different types. The costs will vary based on your location and risk level. 

Overland water

Overland water coverage is a newer offering from home insurance companies, and not every insurer is selling it. It covers damage from flooding caused by the overflow of a river, lake, or other body of water (like the Atlantic ocean).

Sewer backup

Sewer backup coverage is when the city sewers take on too much rainwater and have no place to escape but enter in what should be the out door. All your sinks, showers, and toilets flow out to the “main stack” in your house. The stack connects to the sewer pipes underneath your basement concrete slab, and it’s sloped out to the city sewers. 

Once the city sewers are overwhelmed, the sewage can enter your home and come up through the floor drains. It’s gross.

You can install a mechanical backflow preventer. For about $1200-$1500, it’s a plastic box that, upon detecting backflow, closes its door to prevent any more movement from coming in or out, until the water finds a house without one.

Coastal (or storm surge)

Call your insurer to find out if you’re covered. As of 2018, the Co-operators was the only company to offer this sort of insurance. But with the rising risk and the resulting increase in demand, that has probably changed.

If you call your insurer because you’re worried about the hurricane and they don’t currently offer these coverages, consider shopping for a new home insurance quote with a provider who will.

Find all thecompanies providing flood insurance


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Hurricane car insurance

Your car is protected from a hurricane, whether it’s flipped over or flooded if you have comprehensive auto insurance on your policy.

Comprehensive protects your car while it’s parked. Collision insurance covers your vehicle in a crash. They’re both common endorsements, but do cost extra, and you’ll have to pay a deductible before any claim is paid out.

Comprehensive protection ensures you’ll receive compensation in case of theft, vandalism, or a tree falling on top of your car after a hurricane.

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Government disaster financial assistance depends on your province

Since 1970, federal and provincial governments have worked together to find financial solutions following a disaster. Currently, the feds only step in if the province becomes financially overwhelmed.

Nova Scotia

  • Only for a primary residence, farm, or small business.
  • Max. $80,000 payout
  • $1,000 deductible
  • If the structure is beyond repair, support is limited to the value of the property
  • Car insurance in Nova Scotia is with private insurers

New Brunswick

  • Must be an uninsurable event
  • Max. $80,000 payout.
  • Principal residence only (not even sheds or decks)
  • Car insurance in New Brunswick is with private insurers.

Prince Edward Island

  • No current disaster relief program in place.
  • The federal government may step in to help
  • Car insurance is with private insurers

Newfoundland & Labrador

  • Available for primary residences, farms, and small businesses
  • Must be from a widespread and atypical event
  • Amounts determined by the province after all damage estimates are in
  • Owner must make all efforts to reduce or prevent damage.
  • Auto insurance handled by private insurance

Insurance Bureau of Canada’s Top 10 tips to prepare for a hurricane

  1. Create an emergency preparedness plan for your family.
  2. Assemble disaster safety kits for your home and car.
  3. Secure any patio furniture and barbecues.
  4. Protect or move property that might be damaged by flying debris.
  5. Prepare a detailed home inventory (pictures and receipts).
  6. Charge handheld electronics and have backup power sources available.
  7. Have someone check your property if you are away.
  8. Make sure downspouts are clear of debris and direct water away from your home.
  9. If you have asump pump, make sure it’s working properly to protect against flooding caused by torrential rain.
  10. Check with your insurance representative to make sure you have appropriate coverage.

The bottom line

In conclusion, preparing yourself for a hurricane season is the best way to mitigate damage. Hurricane house insurance is vital to repair the damage. Take all the necessary steps, and above all stay safe.