What you need to know about your car and home insurance after a winter storm

ABOVE: How do you protect your home? Rob Leth reports. 

Editor’s note: This article has been updated. A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that standard home insurance will usually cover flood damage caused by melting or moving ice and snow.

TORONTO – Snow and ice can have a devastating effect on both your home and car if you are not prepared.

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, in recent years, losses caused by weather events—particularly water damage claims—have increased dramatically in Canada.

“We have seen many serious storms in 2013 that have caused a great deal of damage right across Canada,” said Amanda Dean, the vice-president for IBC in a statement. “If you suffer damages from today’s events, when it is safe to do so, it is important to assess and document any potential damages you need to report to your insurance representative.”

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READ MORE: Toronto not in state of emergency as hundreds of thousands remain without power

A winter storm has the power to destroy your home’s roof, gutters and cause pipes to freeze and burst.

While most home standard policies may cover damages resulting from winter weather, it is vital to speak with your insurance agent to confirm what may or may not be covered by your specific policy.

Here’s a look at what may or may not be covered by your standard home insurance policy:

A tree fell on my home. Will I be covered?

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, a standard homeowner policy should cover damages to homes caused by snow, rain or wind, including damage caused by flying debris or falling branches or trees.

A collapse of a structure, such as your roof, due to the weight of ice or snow is also often covered under a standard home insurance policy.

Melting snow and ice has flooded my house. What happens now?

Flood damage inside your home, often due to melted snow or ice in the winter, is not covered under standard home insurance.

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If your pipes freeze and burst and cause flooding inside your home, your standard policy may or may not cover the damages. Again, it is best to contact your insurance representative and/or company. Most insurers have 24-hour claims service and be as detailed as possible when providing information.

I am unable to live in my home due to damage. Will I receive additional living expenses?

The Insurance Bureau of Canada says homeowners who are unable to live in their homes because of insurable damage are entitled to additional living expenses.

As this may vary with insurance company and policy, homeowners should contact their insurance representative for more information.

My car was damaged due to ice and snow. Am I insured?

The Insurance Bureau of Canada says that damage to cars from ice, wind or water is typically covered if you have comprehensive or all-perils car insurance, but this coverage isn’t mandatory so check your policy.

Tips for winterizing your home according to COSECO Insurance Company:

  • Have salt handy for walkways and driveways.
  • Make sure skylights, other roof openings and windows have proper weather stripping to prevent snowmelt from seeping in.
  • If you have to go out in the storm be sure to watch for downed power lines. Report any downed lines to your power company
  • Drain all outside plumbing lines, underground sprinkler lines and water lines to your pool to keep pipes from bursting. Fit exposed pipes with insulation sleeves or wrapping.
  • Don’t forget the chimney.  A wood-burning chimney should be inspected before use each year.

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