Insurance bureau has advice for residents who blame wind for flood damage

Private insurance companies in New Brunswick are urging anyone who suffered property damage during spring flooding to contact their agent directly to discuss their individual policy and whether wind damage is covered.

Industry group says adjusters evaluate 'circumstances of the entire event'

Many cottages along Grand Lake were damaged during the spring flood, but residents say much of the damage was caused by wind not water. (Submitted)

Private insurance companies in New Brunswick are urging people who suffered property damage during spring flooding to contact their agents directly to discuss their individual policies and whether wind damage is covered.

This comes after retired insurance agent Mac Burns launched a campaign to help people who have had their claims turned down because they don't have flood coverage, even though in many cases the damage didn't happen until powerful winds came up the first weekend in May. 

Burns said that since the "But For The Wind" campaign began, he has been contacted by 23 people whose claims have been denied by insurance companies. 

Erin Norwood, the Atlantic manager of government relations for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said people may not have "correct information."

"When a claim is presented for loss or damage ... the circumstances of the entire event are analyzed against the coverage terms and conditions," she said.

Insurance ombudsman can help

Richard and Judy Ingram say their insurance adjuster attributes the damage in their cottage to the flood, although wind was the prime culprit. (CBC)

Richard and Judy Ingram said their insurance adjuster told them the damage to their cottage likely wouldn't be covered because they didn't have flood insurance.

But the Ingrams say the damage was actually caused by the wind, which their policy does cover.

Norwood said all factors that contributed to the damage will be taken into consideration by insurance companies.

Some retired insurance agents have banded together to form a task force to help get information to people who suffered wind damage on May 5 during the spring flood. The Insurance Bureau of Canada's Erin Norwood is the Atlantic Manager of Government Relations, she says every policy is different and people need to check with their broker to get the correct information. 11:46

"Loss or damage from a single occurrence with multiple causes, such as this case, are adjusted and settled as one event. A policyholder doesn't need to submit a water claim and then a distinct wind claim for the same occurrence."

Norwood said if cottage owners have a complaint about an insurance adjuster's findings, each company has an in-house ombudsman who can help.

"It is available, it's there to be used, and if you do have concerns that's where you should be sending them," she said.

Urged to call insurance agents

Norwood said the best people to answer questions about a cottage owner's insurance policy are at the company that provided the insurance since there's no standard in the industry as to what's covered.

"Every policy is worded differently, " she said.

"The insurance industry is a very competitive market, so products offered by companies differ to meet different consumer ... needs."

Norwood said the Insurance Bureau of Canada also has staff who can answer questions.

Just as cottage owners have been denied help under their insurance policies, they have received only limited assistance from the province. 

Cottage owners can apply for flood recovery assistance up to $6,100, but only for cleaning up debris outside their cottages, not for cleaning anything touched by floodwaters inside their cottages.

With files from Elizabeth Fraser and Information Morning Fredericton