VANCOUVER, July 4, 2013 /CNW/ - As the flood waters recede in many areas
across Alberta, the long process of recovery begins. Experts estimate
damages from the floods will total as much as $5 billion. The cost of
these damages will be borne by:
Municipal, provincial and federal governments;
Insurance and reinsurance companies; and,
Individual businesses and residents.
At this point the proportion of damages each party will incur is
unclear. Understandably, this is particularly unsettling for individual
businesses and residents. What's more, many businesses and residents
are struggling to understand what insurance policies cover. That's
because each class of insurance treats flood damage differently.
Protection against flood damage can be added to most commercial
insurance policies purchased by businesses, condo corporations and
farms. Similarly, protection against flood damage is typically included
in the comprehensive coverage option available under most auto
On the other hand, flood damage is specifically excluded from most home insurance policies in Canada. Government assistance
programs exist for homeowners and tenants suffering flood damage. It's
important to note that flood damage is distinct from water and sewer
backup damage. Most home insurance policies provide some form of
protection against water and sewer backup damage. In some cases, you
may need to specifically add, and pay for, this protection.
Adding to the confusion for homeowners and tenants is the fact that
seemingly similar home insurance coverages, like sewer backup
protection, can differ by company. For example, some policies exclude
loss or damage caused both directly and indirectly by flood. If your policy excludes damage caused indirectly by flood,
then you may not be protected against sewer backup damage even if no
flood waters entered your home. That's because the sewer backup damage
was indirectly caused by flood.
So, what should you do if you've suffered flood damage?
The first step is to file a claim with your home insurance provider. You
should do this even if you suspect your claim may not be covered based
on what you've heard from others. As mentioned earlier, each insurance
company offers different coverage. Even if both you and your neighbor
are insured by the same company, your policy may be different. For
example, you may have added sewer backup protection to your policy
whereas your neighbor may not have. Your claim will be assessed based
on your policy and situation.
Your next step should be to apply for assistance from the Alberta
Disaster Recovery Program. For information on this Program, call
1.888.671.1111 or visit http://alberta.ca/Extremerainfall.cfm. You should apply for assistance even if you are waiting to learn if
your home insurance claim is covered. If your claim is covered, your
insurance company will assist you with the repair process.
If your claim is not covered, ask for a letter indicating so. This
letter will assist you if you choose to escalate the matter (see
below). You may also need to submit this letter as part of your
application to the Alberta Disaster Recovery Program. Then, begin your
clean-up. Take notes and pictures of the damage to your home and
property. Keep track of the hours you spend cleaning and the costs you
incur. You will need to submit these to the Alberta Disaster Recovery
The Alberta Disaster Recovery Program will assess your application. If
your application is approved, the Program will cover the costs of
returning essential property to its condition prior to the flood. If
you are still unable to return to your home, you may be eligible for
the pre-loaded debit cards being offered by the government. For more
information on these cards, call 1.888.671.1111 or visit http://alberta.ca/preloaded-debit-card.cfm.
What if you have concerns with your home insurance claim or wish to
The insurance industry hasn't always had the best reputation, but in
recent years things have changed. Today, most companies try to find
ways to cover (rather than deny) claims based on policy terms.
Nonetheless, disputes, mistakes and misunderstandings do happen.
If you have concerns with your home insurance claim or wish to escalate
it, take a few minutes to write down your concerns and what you believe
should be done to resolve them. Then, contact the individuals or
organizations listed below.
The adjuster handling your claim. Share your concerns and proposed remedies with the adjuster and ask for
an explanation or a response. If you speak with the adjuster, follow-up
your conversation with an email and ask the adjuster to do the same.
The agent (or broker) who sold you the policy. Share your concerns and proposed remedies with the agent. Ask the agent
to contact the insurance company and to appeal on your behalf. Also ask
the agent to review your policy to make sure you're properly covered.
The insurance company's claims manager. If your concerns are still not addressed, ask the handling adjuster to
escalate the matter to the company's claims manager, director or vice
president. Again, request any explanations or responses be provided to
you in writing.
The insurance company's ombudsperson. All insurance companies in Canada are required to have an ombudsperson.
This person is responsible for reviewing and responding to complaints,
not just those relating to claims. Before approaching the ombudsperson,
make sure you first attempt to resolve the matter with the handling
adjuster and claims manager.
The General Insurance OmbudService (GIO). This organization provides consumers with a free, independent and
impartial process to resolve auto, commercial and home insurance
complaints. Before you can apply to the GIO for assistance, you must
first attempt to resolve the matter with the insurance company's
The provincial insurance regulator. The insurance industry in Canada is highly regulated. As such, you have
the option of filing an official complaint with the provincial
insurance regulator. As is the case with the GIO, the insurance
regulator will often require that you have exhausted all other options
before they will review your complaint.
In addition to the individuals and organizations listed above, you can
contact your local Better Business Bureau to file a complaint. You can
also take legal action against your insurance company. Obviously,
taking legal action should be your very last resort as this will be
your most costly option.
Established in 2011 and based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Square One
offers the only home insurance policy in Canada that can be
personalized to your unique needs. That means you only pay for the
protection you need. Square One is also one of the few providers to
automatically include earthquake, sewer backup and broad water
protection in its policies. For more information about Square One, or
to get an online quote, visit www.squareoneinsurance.ca.
SOURCE: Square One Insurance Services Inc.
For further information:
Square One Insurance Services Inc.
Tel: 1.855.331.6933 ext 104