March 20, 2017 by Tessie Sanci, Associate Editor
The wind storm that pounded Newfoundland less than two weeks ago could potentially result in damages of $25 million, which would classify the storm as a “catastrophic event,” according to Kent Rowe, president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Newfoundland and vice president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada.
“The industry is treating it as a catastrophic event,” said Rowe, who is also vice president of Wedgwood Insurance Ltd. in St. John’s.
“All indications are leading us to believe it is quite possible [that the cost of damages will reach $25 million],” he added, noting that it will still take a few weeks to see officially published numbers.
Homes and vehicles suffer major damage
The province was hit by hurricane-force winds on March 11, which led to extensive property damage.
“I’m looking out my office window right now and I can see some houses behind me where decks have blown off,” said Rowe, who spoke to Canadian Insurance Top Broker on Friday. “I’m talking [about] two-storey decks that have completely detached from houses and are sitting in people’s backyards. That’s not an uncommon type of claim as a result of this storm.”
Newfoundland-based brokers are also likely encountering clients whose homes have lost their sidings, shingles and roofs due to the force of the winds and whose cars were damaged by flying debris.
The P&C broker community has stepped up for their clients, according to Rowe, who knows of brokers who extended their business hours immediately after the storm to take the influx of calls and who are in communication with their clients to ensure that adjusters are getting in touch.
“As much as these are difficult and challenging times, these are times when we have an opportunity to demonstrate our value to clients in terms of our ability to ensure that their claims are handled quickly and fairly and to make sure that we’re being as responsive and supportive to our clients as we can,” said Rowe.
Claims coverage should go smoothly
The fact that much of the damage was primarily caused by a wind event, which is covered within most standard home insurance policies, will make it easier for clients to have their claims covered by their insurance companies, according to Jim Eso, senior vice president of P&C at Crawford and Company (Canada) Inc., which has had adjusters on the ground since March 12.
Some homeowners may suffer additional damage as a result of the rain that fell on Wednesday, which would have entered those homes that had lost their siding, roof or windows.
“In our case, our initial impression is that the homes that suffered the second event, that being the water that entered the home from the rainstorm, that would be a covered loss as well because it’s rain entering through an aperture created by the initial storm,” said Eso.
Patience still needed
Although the adjusting of the claims should be proceeding quickly, brokers may want to counsel their clients to be patient regarding repairs to their properties, according to Eso.
“Where we may have issues in the short term is with the availability of contractors because there are only so many construction contractors in St. John’s or in Newfoundland,” said Eso, who noted that the contracting industry has mobilized additional resources to help with the demand in the province.
“Because of the large number of claims relative to the number of contractors, it is going to be time consuming to get some of these repairs started,” he added.
This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.