Filing an insurance claim - What Manitoba & Saskatchewan residents need to know

EDMONTON, July 4, 2014 /CNW/ - With serious flooding in parts of Saskatchewan and Manitoba over the past week and news that the Manitoba government has declared a provincial state of emergency,  Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) offers the following advice to help make filing and managing insurance claims as straightforward as possible.

"IBC fully appreciates the significant toll severe weather events can have on families and communities," said Bill Adams, IBC Vice-President, Western & Pacific Region. "We want to help ensure the recovery goes as smoothly as possible for all affected residents. Insurance adjusters and representatives are on the ground in affected areas, providing assistance and processing claims as quickly as possible."

IBC offers these tips to help people manage the insurance claims process:

Starting the process

Call your insurance representative and/or company

  • Most insurers have a 24-hour claims service. Be as detailed as possible when providing information. If you need help getting in touch with your insurer, contact IBC's Consumer Information Centre at 1-877-772-3777.

Prevent further damage

  • If it's safe to do so, start cleaning up and drying things out, and protect your property from further damage (e.g., board up holes and move items out of wet basements). Be sure to wear protective clothing during the cleanup such as sturdy boots, gloves, a face mask, etc. Speak with your insurance representative before making any non-urgent repairs.

List all damaged or destroyed items

  • If possible, assemble proofs of purchase, photos, receipts and warranties. Take photos of damaged property. Talk to your insurer before disposing of any damaged property.

Keep all receipts related to cleanup and living expenses

  • If you've been temporally displaced, ask your insurance representative about what coverage you may be entitled to and the duration of this coverage. Review your policy to ensure you are familiar with specified deductibles, coverage limits and replacement values. Ask questions and talk to your insurance representative if anything is unclear - they are there to help you.

Next steps

  1. Once you have reported a loss to your insurance representative, a claims adjuster will be assigned to you. There may be a delay given the number of people currently affected by the flooding, but you will be contacted as soon as possible.
  2. A claims adjuster will contact you to document the circumstance of the loss, review the documents you provided and explain the next steps in the claims process. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Keep notes of the conversations.
  3. Your insurance company will ask you to complete a "proof of loss" form, to list what property and/or items have been damaged or destroyed, with the corresponding value or cost of the damage or loss. Usually, the proof of loss must be completed and returned to your insurance company within 30 days. Again, ask your insurance representative or claims adjuster if something is unclear.

What's covered, what's not covered

Important note: Home and business insurance policies can differ among companies, so be sure to talk to your insurance representative about your specific coverage details.

Homes

  • Overland flooding resulting from a body of water overflowing onto dry land and causing damage is not generally covered in home insurance policies in Canada.

  • Sudden and accidental bursting of plumbing pipes is covered by home insurance policies.

  • Water damage due to a sewer backup is only covered if specific sewer backup coverage has been purchased. This can be subject to a specific amount or limit.

  • In certain circumstances, homeowners who are unable to return home due to insurable damage are entitled to additional living expenses (this coverage is generally not available if an evacuation is ordered due to overland flooding).

Businesses

There are many different, specialized insurance products for businesses. Talk to your insurance representative for the specifics of your insurance policy.

  • Most business owners will have purchased two common types of insurance:

1) Commercial property insurance, which would include building and stock or equipment coverage to help replace or repair damaged property and contents;

2) Business interruption insurance to compensate for loss of income while a business is shut down following an insured loss or extra expenses should the business have to temporarily relocate.

  • Flood insurance is available as an add-on coverage to both commercial property and business interruption insurance policies. In other words, to be covered for losses due to flood, business owners must have chosen and paid for this option under both types of coverage.

  • Sewer backup coverage is also available, but is usually purchased separately.

  • If you purchased a business interruption policy, find out whether it is a limited (earnings) form, extended (profits), rental income, or extra expense form.

  • A limited form pays only until the damage is repaired or the property is replaced. Ask whether there are limits on the amount of time your business is covered and the amount your insurance will pay in any one month.

  • An extended form continues to pay until your business resumes its normal, pre-interruption level, subject to the maximum period of indemnity listed in your policy.

  • An extra expense form helps cover costs in order to continue as nearly as possible the "normal" business of the insured.

What to do if there is disagreement

"While the vast majority of people are happy with the claims process, occasionally some people may not agree with their insurer's decision," explained Adams. "If there is a disagreement about an insurance claim, they have a number of appeal options."

IBC encourages consumers to investigate the following options:

  • Ask your claims adjuster for a clear explanation (in writing if possible). If your claim has been denied, you have a right to know why. You can also request to speak with the company claims manager.

  • Consult your insurance company's ombudsperson. All federally/provincially licensed home, car and business insurers have a dispute-resolution mechanism in place, including a complaints liaison officer.

  • Call IBC's Consumer Information Centre at 1-877-772-3777. Consumers can get advice from an insurance industry professional.

Additional action

  • If you have exhausted the above options and still have not resolved your complaint you may contact the General Insurance OmbudService (GIO). GIO is an independent, regionally based consumer dispute resolution system for the insurance industry. It provides consumers with a free, independent and impartial process to resolve complaints about home, car or business insurance. Call toll free: 1-877-225-0446.

For more information on insurance, your rights as a consumer and the complaint resolution process please visit ibc.ca.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is pleased to celebrate 50 years as a valuable resource for insurance information. Since 1964, IBC has been working with governments across Canada to make our communities safer, championing issues that directly affect Canadians and the property and casualty (P&C) insurance industry. IBC is the national industry association representing Canada's private home, car and business insurers. Its member companies represent 90% of the P&C insurance market in Canada. The P&C insurance industry employs over 118,600 Canadians, pays more than $7 billion in taxes to the federal, provincial and municipal governments, and has a total premium base of $46 billion.

To view media releases and other information, visit the media section of IBC's website at www.ibc.ca. Follow IBC on Twitter @InsuranceBureau or like us on Facebook.

If you require more information, IBC spokespeople are available to discuss the details in this media release.

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

For further information:

To schedule an interview, please contact:

Celyeste Power
Manager, Media Relations
Insurance Bureau of Canada
416-362-2031 x-4312
cpower@ibc.ca

Steve Kee
Director, Media & Digital Communications
Insurance Bureau of Canada
416-362-2031 x-4387 (daytime)
416-841-5669 (after hours)
skee@ibc.ca