Rash of Tornado Sightings Warrants Emergency Preparedness

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tornado over Alberta FarmThough it may have not been noticed by everyone in Alberta nor resulted in many home insurance claims, a tornado is reported to have touched down in southern Alberta in the evening hours of July 24.

According to CBC News, Environment Canada reported that a pilot spotted a twister touch down near the De Winton Highwood Airport on Wednesday night, and the tornado remained on the ground for an estimated 15 minutes.

Though damage estimates aren't known, these latest developments come after other parts of the country have witnessed tornado activity, which the Insurance Bureau of Canada recently made note of.

Amanda Dean, vice president of the Atlantic division of the IBC, pointed out how these freak environmental catastrophes are evidence of what may be a new normal.

"This unusually severe storm in New Brunswick is another reminder that weather patterns have changed," said Dean. "Events that used to happen every 40 years can now be expected to happen every six."

Though serious damages were relatively limited, the twister tore through the coastal province, uprooting trees, damaging vehicles and defacing a number of buildings and residences.

Dean said that in the wake of the tornado, it's crucial for families to be as fully informed about their insurance as possible in order to recover quickly.

First and foremost is the review process. IBC says that homeowners affected by a tornado should find their policy and look over it to see what their deductible is and what exclusions or limitations apply. If they have trouble understanding the language of the plan, it's a good idea to call the provider directly or get in touch with the IBC's Consumer Information Center.

Make a Detailed, Exhaustive Inventory

One of the things representatives or agents may recommend home and business owners do is make a list of all the items that have been either damaged or destroyed. Though this may take some time to complete, it pays off to be as detailed with the inventory process as possible, making note of when the items were purchased, attaching receipts and warranties to photographs of the affected belongings and separating necessities from luxuries.

Before making a claim, however, homeowners should be sure that their valuables and possessions are picked up and not potentially subject to further damage. IBC says that so long as it's safe to do so, be sure to tidy up the affected parts of the home, as further damage may result that may not be covered due to the perception of owner neglect.

Specific car insurance plans cover tornado damage

When tornadoes touch down, the first things people often think of being damaged are their homes. But cars get beaten up when they're subjected to heavy wind gusts and falling tree limbs as well. Fortunately, most car insurance policies will cover damage related to tornadoes, IBC notes, provided motorists have all-perils or comprehensive protection, depending on the insurer. Because this coverage isn't required, some policyholders may only have basic coverage, which doesn't provide for wind, hail or water damage.

Though the tornado season may be relatively young, Canada has already seen its fair share of watches and warnings. In early June, Environment Canada issued a tornado warning for parts of central Alberta, initially classifying the storm as both "perilous" and "life-threatening." Over the long Canada Day weekend, another tornado watch was declared for the northwestern portion of Alberta, calling on residents to seek shelter if they saw one develop.

According to Accuweather.com, peak tornado season is between April and October, with the majority of outbreaks occurring in June, July and August, historically speaking. Most of the twisters in Canada have been confined to the Prairie Provinces and parts of Ontario. In June 2007, an EF-5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale touched down in Manitoba, leveling virtually everything in its path. A Category 5 tornado is the strongest designation for a twister.