Calgary snow damage leads to insurance questions

Many Calgarians spent the day rescuing their battered cars, clearing their yards and taking stock of the damage, but it was also a busy day for some insurance agents.

Alberta getting a good dose of severe weather from this 'Snow-tember' to hail to flooding

Insurance agents were busy getting calls Wednesday after the recent snow that hit Calgary caused widespread damage. (Allison Dempster/CBC)

Many Calgarians spent the day rescuing their battered cars, clearing their yards and taking stock of the damage.

But it was also a busy day for insurance agent Tammy Truman. Her phone started ringing early on Wednesday morning.

"'Are we covered for trees?' That is the number one question," she said.

The answer is no — storm damage to a tree itself or landscaping is not included in most insurance policies.

"I said, 'I hope you have a good fireplace' and 'You might as well start cutting it up for wood and use it this winter,'" said Truman.

But she says most house insurance policies will cover damage to a roof or a deck, and people with what's called "comprehensive" coverage will be able to claim vehicle damage.

Severe weather a trend in Alberta, says bureau

The Insurance Bureau of Canada says it's too soon to put a price tag on the damage from this storm, but it says the severe weather that has hit Alberta in recent years is a costly and worrisome trend.

"Severe weather in Alberta is not an anomaly," said Heather Mack with the Insurance Bureau of Canada. "It is just the way things are now. And it has become a trend." 

Last month, a hail storm near Airdrie resulted in $450 million in insured damage, and flooding in southern Alberta in 2013 caused $1.7 billion.

"Historically, when there's been pressure on claims, like we've seen over the last 10 to 20 years, there is an impact on premium costs," said Mack.

The cleanup from this latest weather wallop could take days, but the insurance claims will take weeks. 

The bureau provided a list of natural catastrophes in Alberta and their estimated damage since 2011:

  • August 2014 – A severe wind, rain and hail storm resulted in $450 million in insured damage in Airdrie and surrounding communities.
  • June 2013 – Severe weather events including the flooding in southern Alberta caused more than $1.7 billion in insured damage.
  • August 2012 – A thunderstorm accompanied by heavy winds that struck the Calgary region and surrounding areas resulted in insured damage of more than $535 million.
  • July 2012 – A thunderstorm in Edmonton resulted in insured damage of more than $100 million.
  • July 2012 – Severe wind and thunderstorm from Cardston to Nanton caused more than $71 million in insured damage.
  • November 2011 Wind and thunderstorm in Alberta caused more than $230 million in insured damage.
  • July 2011 – Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan wind and thunderstorms cost more than $190 million in insured damage.
  • May 2011 – Serious fire in Slave Lake had an estimated insured damage of more than $717 million.


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