Hurricane season in Canada starts in June and lasts until the end of November. This is when northern Atlantic Ocean waters are warm enough to support conditions for hurricanes, tropical storms and other severe weather. Atlantic Canada sees an average of six tropical storms a year. With a minimum wind speed of 120 kilometres per hour, torrential rainfall and storm surges, hurricanes can cause substantial damage to home properties.
To help a homeowner minimize financial losses which could occur from a hurricane, such as exterior damage, having the right insurance is important. Additionally, having a plan to prepare before, during and after a hurricane can complement existing insurance.
Home insurance and hurricanes: why the right coverage is important
Before a storm alert is issued, it’s important for homeowners to review their current coverage with a Atlantic BrokerLink insurance broker. Basic home insurance coverage may not cover flooding from sources such as hurricane surge waters.
If a homeowner needs to submit a claim due to hurricane damage, documenting the damage with photos and/or videos can help in the claims process. Additionally, an up-to-date home inventory checklist will also help the homeowner assess if particular belongings have been lost and/or damaged during a hurricane.
Overland water damage protection can help owners with financial losses which could occur due to fresh water entering the property, but will not cover damages from salt water. BrokerLink insurance brokers can explain what kind of water damage is covered.
Tips to be prepared when a hurricane hits home
In addition to homeowners getting the right home insurance and understanding their current coverage, having a plan for a hurricane can be beneficial.
Before a hurricane: stay informed and secure outdoor objects
An important part of being prepared for hurricane season is staying informed. Storm warnings are delivered through television, radio, government websites and social media by Environment Canada. Social media users can subscribe to local Twitter weather alerts. Environment Canada has created a system of Twitter alerts for specific regions across the country, including Atlantic Canada.
Hurricane warnings can be issued one or two days in advance of a hurricane and this provides homeowners with time to prepare. Here are some preparation tips:
- secure any outdoor objects that could become dangerous debris (garbage and recycling cans, outdoor furniture, barbeques, etc.)
- trim dead trees and other foliage that could pose a risk of falling on a home or vehicle
- fasten shutters, remove unsecured drain spouts if installed on the home
- prepare an emergency kit which includes water, food, flashlights, a battery powered radio and medical supplies
During a hurricane: remain inside
When a hurricane or severe storm does make landfall there will be strong winds, creating dangerous debris, and large amounts of precipitation or displaced water, which can cause flooding.
Keep these important considerations in mind during a hurricane or severe storm:
- remain calm
- do not go out in a boat during a storm, or if on the open water, head to shore when severe weather approaches
- use the radio to listen to reports and updates
- do not go outside to watch the storm
- take shelter in the basement, away from windows and in the most centre room of a building
- if the hurricane makes landfall, there could be up to half an hour of relative calm weather when the eye of the storm passes over – remain in a safe place until advised by local officials
After the storm: evaluate surroundings
When a severe storm finally ends, there will likely be emergency reports to inform the public it is safe to leave shelter. These reports can also provide specific instructions regarding power failures, infrastructure damage or evacuation orders.
After the storm, consider the following:
- Stay calm
- Check personal safety of those in the home and provide first aid if needed
- Keep any pets sheltered
- Use the telephone for only life-threatening injuries to keep systems free for emergency personnel
- Check the building for structural damage and re-locate if it is unsafe
- Record any damage to property or its contents by taking photographs
Preparation is key
Prepare for the next storm by having the right insurance in place and making a hurricane preparation plan. Having these in place is a good way to be prepared as a homeowner during severe weather systems, like hurricanes.
Contact a BrokerLink insurance broker for an insurance check-up before the next storm.