Canadian Underwriter

Without power, telephones, damage from Hurricane Juan hard to assess

October 1, 2003   by Canadian Underwriter

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As most of Halifax continued on Tuesday to be without power and telephones, it is difficult to assess just how much insurers may be paying out in the aftermath of Hurricane Juan.
Juan hit the Halifax-Dartmouth area late Sunday, killing at least two people and causing widespread damage from falling trees, flying debris and flooding. Power had yet to be restored to much of the area as of Tuesday. The storm also moved into the Charlottetown, PEI area, causing similar damage and blackouts, specifically sinking several boats in the city’s yacht club.
“Without access to power and phones, most consumers aren’t even thinking about filing [damage] claims yet,” Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) regional vice president Don Forgeron said in interview Tuesday. While the local IBC office did have power, Forgeron said this was not the norm.
Most insurers are setting up special claims units to deal with the storm’s damage, which Forgeron says will come largely from fallen tree and debris, rather than flooding. The IBC issued a release informing policyholders that damage from windstorm will be covered under property policies, as well as sewer back-up under some policies. In the statement, Forgeron notes, “Most companies are treating this as the extreme event that it was. In general, claims submitted in the hurricane’s wake will not affect claims-free [premium] discounts.”
Crawford Adjusters Canada and Co-operators General Insurance both issued press releases letting consumers know that they were on the scene to help claimants. Co-operators General’s Halifax office was hit by the power outage, but calls were re-routed to Moncton, NB, so no delay of service to customers was experienced.
The damage caused by Hurricane Juan looks to be extensive, says Crawford’s vice president of operations in Atlantic Canada, Grant King. “Significant structural losses have been reported in addition to a large number of claims from homes and businesses for roofs, fences and decks that were damaged. We also expect to receive some claims for personal watercraft that were damaged in the storm.”
Juan was a “category 1” hurricane when it made landfall, with winds topping 145 km/h. A state of emergency has been declared in the affected areas of Nova Scotia, and the federal government has sent in troops to help with clean-up efforts.

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