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Harsh winter in Quebec : the claims accrue for insurers


Frédérique De Simone

13 March 2019 13:30

The collapse of roofs due to the weight of the snow causes headaches for insurers in Quebec. However, these are not the only ones. The claims are of any type, have entrusted some of the representatives of the insurance Journal, and this, as in motor insurance than in home.

The claims have reached a particularly high level, in comparison with the figures of the last decade. “What is striking this year is the frequency, but especially the severity of the claims. There are a lot more this winter. It is difficult to identify them in the type of loss, but, overall, there are more claims, ” says Pierre Duchesne, coordinator, individual insurance at The Capital.

Collapses of roofs : the situation differs from 2008

The collapse of the roof following, in general, a cocktail of weather or conditions outside the standards. This year, the density and the number of rainfall are the markers that affect the most causes of claims, compared to 2008 where the gusts of wind were causing the most damage, ” explains the meteorologist of the research laboratory ofIntact Insurance, Jonathan Gadoury.

“The wind creates amoncèlements of snow and disperses unevenly the weight of the snow on the roof or in the roof of a building. Also, the height is often the structural weakness of a building. So, if the snow accumulates due to wind, it can cause a lot of damage, ” warns Mr. Gadoury. The freezing and thawing can create ice sheets that prevent snow and water to drain. It adds weight to the roof, which increases the risk of collapse. “

Prevention is the key, say insurers

The word order of the insurers is, without a doubt, prevention. Everyone has a different technique to alert the insured. The Capital opts for publications on social networks, blogs, and website.

Intact Insurance makes social media campaign and the mass media, by focusing on its targeted prevention programs, developed by its team of scientific data in his research laboratory, DataLab. The latter compiles, among other things, the weather data of each administrative region, and time. It automatically alerts the customer that a risk for them. Intact thus recommends to its policyholders to take the necessary measures to prevent breakage or, worse, a collapse.

Intact also said to rely on a brigade of 55 préventionnistes in its ranks. “They regularly contact the insured to give tips and send practice sheets in order to prepare for the risks to which they are subject, explains Arnaud Collinet, vice president, business insurance at Intact Insurance. Their role is to help, educate, give advice and make recommendations to clients, ” he says.

In addition, in Intact as well as at other insurers, the insured may receive a sum of money to remove snow from their roof when the risk is important. “It is less expensive to prevent than to compensate and repair for insurers, points out Vincent Gaudreau, vice-president of the brokerage firm of Gaudreau Insurance. In the event of a collapse, it is necessary to consider the cost of the building itself, it is generally necessary to rebuild, the contents inside ; the value of the vehicles that are there when it comes to a garage, the loss of earnings and income in the case of a factory or a factory. Prevention is the key. One way as another, the people must be proactive in this kind of situation. “

The collapse of the roof remain rare

Although they have been more numerous this year, and that some have been in the news, the collapse of roofs-residential are very rare. It is even more rare that the residents are not insured for this type of damage, according to the three insurers surveyed by the Journal of insurance. In normal times, the homes are covered by home insurance which includes all risk insurance.

“The designated risk is present whenever the building is old, poorly maintained, in bad condition, the type of activity within the building is suspicious, or that the profile of the client is problematic, particularly at the level of historical claims “, said Vincent Gaudreau.

A general rule, claims to be the most spectacular for the insurers comes from businesses, ” said Pierre Duchesne. “The roofs are typically flat and broad, while the residential, the roofs are arched, sloping and more concise, which makes them more resistant. “

The worst to come ?

The winter is coming quietly to a close, but the month of march does not leave its place. It is the overlap between the recent snowfalls and the snow begins to melt. “This is not because the roof will not collapse as there will be no complaints,” recalls Pierre Duchesne.

The infiltration of water are common at the time of the thaw and can do as much financial damage that equipment. “We know that with the melting of the snow, there will be ice dams, which is a predisposition to water infiltration through the roof,” he adds.

“It starts to get hot, certainly, but it is not out of the woods yet. The melting and the snow turned into rain will put an additional burden on the roofing. There is also a risk for the human life to be taken into consideration, ” notes Arnaud Collinet, Intact.

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