A Tornado just hit, now what do I do?


Posted On August 15, 2020

Sean McKecknie

Written by Sean McKechnie

Branch Manager, Listowel
Zehr Insurance Brokers Ltd.

It started out as a beautiful Saturday afternoon. A perfect day to enjoy a hike through the bush. That is when things started to turn. The sky became dark and the wind began to pick up. As we watched the tree limbs whip around “Time to hit the road we thought.”

Within a few short minutes we made our way out of the bush, down the road back to town. As we drove, I looked back in the rearview mirror and watched the sky became and very eerie colour. A few drops hit the windshield, then the rain started to come down. The windshield wipers struggled to keep up. A few more miles and we made it back to town.

The winds almost lifted my truck right off its wheels

As I pulled into my friends driveway, we quickly found out what was going to be a short pit stop turned out to be a run to the basement and to seek shelter for what was about to come. We barely were out of the truck and on the way to his shop when a gust of wind came and sent a lawn chair 20 feet straight up in the air. I turned around just in time to see my buddy point over my shoulder. The transformer on the hydro poll across the street exploded in a shower of sparks. That was our cue, we turned and ran for the basement. We were able to peer out of a small basement window and watch as the winds almost lifted my truck right off its wheels as if it were a toy.

What then sounded like a train passing over head was gone as quickly as it had arrived. Within 5 minutes, the clouds broke the wind died down and it was once again a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Well that was crazy, but not too bad I thought.

We made our way up the stairs and back outside to assess the damages. Everything around my friends place was pretty much the way we left it, besides the chair that went for a ride of course, a couple downed limbs and some random pieces of garbage strewn across the lawn.
Let’s head down the street to my place I said, see if anything else has been damaged. As we made our way up the road, we came across various sized trees, limbs and other damages to roofs, small sheds, etc.

Nothing prepared me for the site I would see when we turned down my own street. It looked like a war zone. One of the old familiar maple trees that lined my driveway was down and across the road.

As we approached the house, I seen that not only had I lost one of my biggest maple trees, but a number of the large soft pines that lined my back yard were also down. It was as though they had been pushed over individually taking up what was my back yard narrowly missing the deck and house. However, one thing did not make it out unscathed. Where the heck is my garage?! Remnants of what used to a one car garage with a storage area built on the back now sat in a pile of ruble underneath a number of trees. I couldn’t believe the mess. Within 5 minutes I had lost 8 beautiful trees down and one garage. I was lucky we had stopped at my friends or I would have been home.

Now what do I do?

Nothing prepared me for the site I would see when we turned down my own street.

I hope you never have to worry about this but if you have a similar experience, first things you need to do:
  • First off, don’t panic.
  • Assess the situation. Are you or anyone around you injured? Is everything safe? Are there hydro lines down? Do you need to evacuate?
  • If the area is safe, take pictures of all the damage and call your insurance broker.
  • Take steps to prevent further damage. Eg. Tarp a roof, clear limbs if you are able, vacuum up water. If you are unable to do these things, your broker can recommend a restoration company or contractor that can help you out.
  • If you are unable to stay in your home, be sure to keep all your receipts for things like hotels, meals, clothing, etc. These are all things that can be reimbursed if you have the proper coverage.
  • Do an inventory of all the damages and any items that have been lost or destroyed. Your claims adjuster will need this list along with values for each items.
  • When you speak with your broker, you will want to review your policy and coverages including your deductible. Home insurance policies generally cover the damages to your home and personal property. Your home deductible will apply to your home and personal property losses.
  • If your automobile has also sustained damages, that will be a separate claim under your Ontario automobile insurance policy. Your optional comprehensive coverages will respond to this if you have purchased it. Keep in mind as this will be a separate claim, the comprehensive deductible will apply to the automobile damages. Comprehensive coverage will cover the hail damage, tree limbs falling on the car, flying objects and windshield damages caused by the Tornado.
This is a terrible thing to go through but your broker is there to help you. They will get in touch with your insurance company to get the claims process started. Rest assured, your broker has your best interest in heart and will work with you to get you back to where you were before the loss ever occurred.

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