Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Hailstorms are unpredictable and can wreak absolute havoc on homes, farms, businesses and the landscape across Canada. From May through October, hailstorms are likely to rip through Alberta, the Southern Prairies and Southern Ontario, as well as other areas, threatening massive property damage. The Prairies tend to be the hardest hit by hail; in fact, certain parts of this area – namely Alberta’s Hail Alley – can expect as many as 10 hailstorms a year. During these events, balls of ice ranging from pea to golf-ball size fall from the sky with substantial force, typically for a span as long as 15 minutes.
Residents in areas prone to hailstorms can take precautions against the weather, making sure that their roof is strong and in good repair, protecting their windows with storm shutters or impact-resistant glass, and keeping their car or other vehicles under cover. Farmers are especially diligent about putting these measures into place because they stand to lose so much in the way of crops, livestock, equipment and buildings. Many of them erect special structures to protect their crops, and nearly all of them invest in hail netting. They also provide shelter for their livestock and plan escape routes for them in the event of severe storms.
In spite of these precautions and preparations, hail damage cannot be entirely avoided. In just a few moments, a hailstorm can cause tremendous damage resulting in massive financial losses. The hailstorm that battered Calgary in July 2010 with golf ball-sized hailstones set a record for financial loss, with approximately 60,000 insurance claims filed, totaling $400 million. (The previous record – $342 million for a 1991 hailstorm – was set in Calgary as well.)
These figures point to the importance of being financially prepared for the threat of hail. Had these storm victims not had insurance policies covering hail damage, they would have been paying that $400 million out of their own pockets. When you think about the potential damage hail can do to roofs, siding, windows, cars, crops and more, you realize just how expensive it can be to recover from one of these powerful storms.
Here are the types of insurance that can protect you from the financial losses associated with hail damage:
Homeowner’s insurance - Most homeowner’s insurance policies cover damage caused by weather – rain, wind, snow, ice and hail. The only common exceptions are sewer back up due to heavy rainfall and earthquake, which usually need to be added as a rider. Check your policy to make sure hail damage is covered, and remember that when you file any type of claim, you are responsible for paying the deductible amount before your insurance company pays the rest, and it pays only up to the limits of your coverage.
Hail insurance (also sometimes called hail crop insurance) - Hail insurance is offered as a specialized type of insurance for farmers, who may need to protect their crops, livestock, equipment and structures. Some insurance companies specialize this coverage even further, tailoring it to a specific crop that may be the heavy revenue-producer for the farm. Hail insurance is designed to protect farmers’ investments in their businesses and to ensure they are back up and running in a short period of time.
Comprehensive car insurance - While it’s not mandatory to carry comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, it can be a wise investment. What if you are driving when that hailstorm kicks up? Dents and other damage to your car can cost you plenty. Comprehensive shifts the financial burden (minus your deductible) from you to your insurance carrier.
Sources: Government of Canada, CBC News, Calgary Sun