How a Property Damage Lawyer can Help in the Wake of Ontario’s Derecho Storm

Large swaths of southern Ontario, eastern Ontario, and Quebec were impacted by a fast-moving ‘derecho’ storm on May 21, 2022, causing at least 10 deaths, power outages to nearly a million people, and tens of millions of dollars in damage. With insurance claims now flooding in, here’s how an experienced property damage lawyer from Will Davidson LLP can help ensure that you’re fairly compensated for the losses you’ve incurred.

What is a Derecho Storm?

America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Storm Prediction Center defines a derecho as a ‘widespread, long-lived wind storm … associated with bands of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms variously know as bow echoes, squall lines, or quasi-linear convective systems.’ In other words, a derecho is a large, intense thunderstorm that can cause extensive damage.

Who Was Affected by the Derecho?

The storm plowed through much of the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor, Canada’s most densely-populated region containing three of the nation’s four largest cities – Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa – and roughly half of its approximately 38.5 million citizens.

The Ottawa region was perhaps the most acutely affected. Winds there reportedly hit 190 km/h in some areas, and the storm caused widespread damage to the area’s infrastructure, including knocking over 187 power poles – more than what fell during the 1998 ice storm – and four transmission towers. Forty roads remained impassable by mid-last-week, and roughly 50,000 hydro customers remained without power.

The damage was by no means limited to the National Capital Region. Roughly 550,000 people lost power in Quebec. More than 1,000 power poles were knocked down in Hydro One’s service area. And upwards of 72,700 customers remained without power in Bancroft, Tweed, and Perth by May 26.

Will Damages be Covered by Insurance?

In general, home insurance will cover policy holders for most damages and lost belongings caused by extreme weather like wind, hail, snow, rain, and flying debris like falling branches or trees. Damage to your vehicle, meanwhile, is likely be covered by your auto insurance policy.

According to Canadian Underwriter, which covers the Canadian insurance industry, the derecho is likely to result in claims of varying severity.

“Typically speaking, storms like this can cause a large number of smallish claims,” said Glenn McGillivray, managing director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction. “We certainly are seeing that. But we’re also seeing losses on the high end as well. We’re seeing roof loss, buildings collapsing, and things of that nature.”

Unfortunately, McGillivray predicts “a really high degree of uninsured loss” related to the storm.

“You’re going to get a lot of people with maybe minor roof damage and things like that, where either the damage is not going to exceed the deductible, or the person will feel that it’s not worth filing a claim for,” he explained. “So there’s going to be a lot of hidden damage, because it’s not going to show up in the numbers.”

Although it’s too early to predict the total value of losses caused by the storm, the insurance industry is already comparing it to the damaging windstorms that caused $600 million in insured damage in Ontario and Quebec on May 4, 2018, and the July 2021 tornado in Barrie, Ontario that caused $100 million in insured losses.

How Can a Property Damage Lawyer Help?

Holders of home insurance policies expect to be compensated for damages to their property caused by natural disasters like the May 21 derecho storm. However, compensation isn’t always guaranteed. Claims can be denied for a wide variety of reasons, and even when compensation is awarded, it isn’t always as much as the policyholder expects.

If you’re interested in filing a claim for damages to your property, consider talking to an experienced property damage lawyer before contacting your insurer. The team at Will Davidson LLP has been helping homeowners access compensation for the losses they’ve incurred for decades. As one of the few law firms that represents both insurance providers and policyholders, we have a unique understanding of both sides of these complex disputes and will do whatever we can to get your claim resolved favourably and efficiently.

Contact our team today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Your property damage lawyer will listen to your story, assess the validity of your claim, and explain the next steps in the legal process.

Image: Shutterstock

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