Saskatchewan Summer Storms
Thunder, lightning, rain, wind, hail, and 5 minutes later it’s a nice sunny day! We’ve all been there, it’s a major part of living in Saskatchewan. By the time you finish reading this sentence, we’re back to rain! Our storms in Saskatchewan are unlike any other province. Whenever friends from BC or the Maritimes come to visit, something they hope to see is a prairie lightning storm!
What happens when damage occurs due to wind, rain, or lightning? Saskatchewan summers are typically very dry from June to September. We see storms where there is only lightning and thunder, with no rain. In this climate, it is very easy to suffer a loss caused by a storm. Therefore, it is important to know how your insurance covers you for these losses.**
Lightning is a powerful force of electricity, that can cause significant damage. Lightning causes trees to fall and fires to start. Should a surge affect your home, lightning may even cause the TV on your wall to burn out. While lightning is very dangerous and efforts should be taken to limit its effects on your home, damage caused by lightning is covered by insurance in nearly every situation. Lightning strikes your home and starts a fire? Covered. Lightning strikes your home and damages all the electronic items plugged in? Covered. Lightning may not be covered if the damage to your home causes your food to spoil due to loss of refrigeration. However, this coverage can often be added to your home insurance
Wind and Hail
Windstorm damages from summer storms in Saskatchewan can be devastating. In most cases, wind is something that is covered by insurance. For instance, if shingles get blown off your roof, or your siding gets blown off the house, you will likely require someone to repair the damages. With these types of losses, the type of damage and settlement will differ depending on the age of your roof. If a person has a 5-year-old roof, they are likely to receive full replacement cost coverage. This means that no matter the replacement cost, they are covered, provided they purchased adequate insurance prior to the damage occurring. Where we tend to see depreciation apply, is if the roof is 20 years old. This is because the life of a shingle is not always the full life listed on the box, and shingles tend to require replacement on a more frequent basis due to the weather conditions in Saskatchewan (ie. about every 15 to 20 years for 25 to 30-year shingles).
Hail and wind tend to be grouped together, as the damages they can cause affect the same portions of the house, primarily the exterior. The same way a shingle blown off a 20-year roof will have depreciation applied, a 20-year-old shingle that has holes punctured through it due to hail, will have a depreciated settlement value as well.
Rainfall is the loss type from a Saskatchewan storm that has the most potential to cause damage, given that it can enter your home from any little crack or imperfection. Despite its prevalence in all storms, rainfall is generally not a covered loss type. Although there are extensions to a policy that can add coverage for water entering your home from the outside, your homeowners’ insurance is likely not going to cover this. There are exceptions to the rule, based on the premise of proximate cause. The proximate cause of a loss is the first incident that could have given rise to the series of events causing the damage. For instance, a fire starts inside the home, that burns a hole in the side, causing water to enter your home from a rainstorm occurring at the same time. Or, imagine a windstorm that blows the shingles off of your roof, allowing rain to enter the house from the outside during the same storm. In these examples, the cause of the loss would be fire and wind, respectively, rather than water.
As mentioned previously, extensions can usually be purchased that allow for coverage for water entering the home from the outside through the doors and windows. On the insurance policy, this is typically called an overland water endorsement and will protect up to the amounts shown on your policy for water entering the home during a storm event. The overland water endorsement will also sparingly cover groundwater, provided the water entered through the ground surrounding your foundation during a storm. However, the overland water endorsement does not include seepage, so groundwater entering the home through a crack in the basement wall would generally not be covered by insurance. Further, the pressures of groundwater on the foundation of a house causing cracks or foundation damage, would not be covered by insurance.
The overland water extension endorsement would typically cover river and creek overflow due to heavy rainfall. Dwellings located near a river or creek tend to be rated higher accordingly.
The amount of times we hear the question “what about an act of God?” in this line of work is… put simply, a lot. The long and short of it is that there are no exclusions for “acts of God”, as the exclusions are based on the actual loss that occurred. During a Saskatchewan summer, there is sometimes the risk of a tornado. A tornado is a windstorm, and by that virtue is a covered loss, provided your policy covers for wind. Tornadoes tend to cause significant damages, similar to the wind mentioned previously, but on a larger scale. Thus, the size and amount of damage caused by a tornado, does not preclude it from being a covered loss.
Loss vs. Claim
So when do you place a claim on your insurance policy? When you have damage, you have a loss to your property. At this point, depending on what happened, you may be panicking to get things fixed and wondering about how you are going to get it done. When a loss occurs due to a Saskatchewan summer storm, usually homeowners will be getting the damage fixed all at once. This places stress on the construction industry to repair damage in a timely manner. In this case, the best course of action is to call your broker who will give you advice on how to proceed. We have many years of experience dealing with claims, so we can advise properly on what your next steps should be.
Generally, when damage occurs, it is best to have a professional out as soon as possible to survey the damage and provide an estimate for the repairs. Your home insurance policy will likely contain a deductible clause. This means that you will be responsible for a portion of the loss. In most cases, the deductible for home insurance is $1000. However, the deductible can be $500, $750, $2500, or higher depending on your specific policy.
You may have a discount on your insurance policy because you have not placed a claim in the last 5 years. It is important to note that in accepting payment for a claim, this discount would typically be removed. For example, let’s say you have a $1,000 deductible, and the estimate to replace the damage to your roof is $1,200. You would be paying $1,000, and the insurance company would cover the other $200, but your premiums will increase for the next 3 – 5 years, depending on your insurer. This is likely to negate the entire $200 saved by placing the claim, so it makes more sense to cover this on your own without insurance. If the estimate of damage is $4,000 in the same situation, it begins to make more sense to place this as a claim on your insurance, as the increase to your rates will not be the entire $3000 difference between your deductible and the amount of damage.
An important consideration when making a claim is that the more claims you file, the more your insurance premiums will increase. For example, on your first claim, your premiums may increase 15%, however, a second claim could increase your premiums up to 40%. After two claims on a policy within a year, insurance companies tend to look at your policy with more scrutiny and may apply restrictions to your insurance policy resulting in your insurance not covering as much going forward.
In any case, your best bet after a loss is to call your insurance broker. We have the expertise and experience to walk you through the process of placing a claim. We also ensure that if you place a claim, we can work towards keeping your premiums as low as possible upon renewal of your insurance policy. There are many risks associated with Saskatchewan summer storms that can cause damage to your home, most of which are insured using basic home insurance, with some requiring extensions. It is important to understand the insurance coverage you have, and how you are protected so that when you call to place a claim, there are no surprises. When the storm is over, be sure to pause and enjoy the little things such as the smell of rain.
Is your home damaged due to a Saskatchewan Summer Storm? Contact Campbell & Haliburton Insurance
- Give Campbell & Haliburton a call at 306-757-0621
- Send us an email or contact Campbell & Haliburton online
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As you walk out of our door, you can do so with the assurance that you are covered with the home insurance that best meets your needs. If you don’t have an insurance broker and want to talk to someone who is truly passionate about your insurance, contact us at Campbell & Haliburton Insurance. We would love to talk to you.
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**(This is a general overview. There are many different insurance companies, and there are always differences in insurance policies. For specific details on your policy and coverage, we recommend that you contact your agent or broker.)