What’s covered by your home insurance when a tornado hits

Un ciel nuageux

Do you get the impression that tornadoes are making headlines more often these days? You’re probably right. Climate change is making a significant impact on the planet.

Let’s explain this weather phenomenon, from the point of view of the coverage provided under your home and auto insurance.

What’s a tornado, exactly?

A tornado is much more than a swirling dark cloud going full steam ahead...Much like the Tasmanian Devil, tornadoes move very quickly, with speeds reaching up to 70 km/h at their peak.

Tornadoes are powerful and can destroy almost anything in their path. They can uproot trees, topple cars and level homes as easily as a house of cards.

They usually appear in the afternoon or early evening, but they can occur at night as well.

What are the warning signs?

How can you know a tornado is approaching? Here are some tell-tale signs:

  • A violent storm
  • Excessive thunder and lightning
  • Dark skies that sometimes look green or yellow
  • A rumbling or whistling sound
  • Heavy rains
  • Hail

You’re not a qualified meteorologist? Luckily, Environment Canada is THE source to warn populations of tornado risks. Watch out for their weather alerts (This hyperlink will open in a new tab), whether on the radio, TV, newspapers or their website.

Some stats on tornadoes

Did you know that Canada ranks second only to the United States for countries with the most tornadoes?

The Prairies and Southern Ontario are the areas with the most risk in Canada, especially near the end of June and into July.

But due to climate change, other areas may eventually be more affected, too. The potential for extreme storms has been increasing due to higher temperatures and humidity levels, particularly in Ontario and Quebec, where cases have doubled in the last 5 years.

However, the unpredictable nature of climate change prevents us from being able to accurately make any new predictions. Which areas are most at risk? We don’t know.

What does my home insurance cover?

Fear not, because your home insurance does provide coverage in the event of a tornado.

Most contracts cover damage caused by strong winds, whether it’s a simple storm or a tornado. This also includes any food lost in your freezer following a power outage.

What if you have to leave your home because of the incurred damage or because you were ordered to evacuate? No problem! Your living expenses (food and shelter) will be reimbursed until you can return home.

But beware, some limitations and a deductible apply. Check with your insurer before spending on something that may not be covered or submitting a claim for an amount below your deductible. The question then becomes: Is it worth your while to submit a claim?

In any event, quickly contact your insurer to bring them up to speed with your situation.

What if your car is damaged?

It all depends on the coverage provided by your auto insurance.

The damage is covered if your contract includes one of these coverages:

  • All perils (protection 1 in Section B)
  • All perils other than collision or upset (protection 3 in Section B)
  • Specific perils (protection 4 in Section B)

What if a fallen tree caused damage?

What to do if a fallen tree causes damage? This could definitely happen during a tornado, but are you adequately covered?

The answer is yes because it’s considered an act of God. What exactly is considered an act of God? It’s an unforeseen event for which you are in no way liable.

In our case, it’s the location where the tree fell that will determine which insurer will reimburse the damage.

If your property was damaged, your insurance will cover you.

If one of your trees falls on the neighbour's house or car, their insurance will cover it.

Because mental health is important!

It’s completely normal to feel shaken up after a tornado. Many insurers understand this and now offer a psychological support service after an accident or loss. This service (usually free) lets you discuss your challenging situation with healthcare professionals.