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Insurance adjustors, contractors working to provide answers to hard-hit residents (5 photos)

'It's kind of like a triage situation in that we look at homes with the most damage and move backwards to those with the least,' says official

As the clean up continues in the tornado-ravaged neighourhoods of south Barrie, many are turning to their insurance companies for answers.

As residents and helpers picked up debris off streets and properties following Thursday afternoon’s tornado, contractors and inspectors began to walk the streets hardest to collect information.

Peter Vasey, the general manager at WINMAR, a contractor and property restoration specialist company, was one of many contractors on the ground surveying damage for the insurance companies they represent. 

“It's kind of like a triage situation in that we look at homes with the most damage and move backwards to those with the least,” said Vasey. “Right now, we’re obviously looking at the roofing side of things and where and how to make repairs.”

After looking at the outside damage, Vasey said he and his team will begin to move to the inside of homes to check for water damage and things of that nature. 

Environment Canada has confirmed it was an EF-2 tornado that touched down on Thursday and dozens of homes and businesses were damaged.

Every policy is different, but Vasey said there isn’t necessarily "tornado insurance", but rather things caused by a tornado that are covered.

“Really it's a wind event. High winds, materials flying into homes, shingles ripped off, flooding ... that would generally be covered under a policy,” said Vasey. “It's an act of God, essentially."

A release by the Insurance Bureau of Canada said people affected by a tornado should check with their insurance representative, who can confirm the coverage details. 

Damage to homes caused by a tornado, including wind and rain, is usually covered:  

  • Losses caused by flying debris or fallen trees and/or branches;
  • Losses to your home and contents from water entering through openings suddenly caused by wind;
  • Damage to vehicles from wind or water, if you have comprehensive coverage as part of your policy. This coverage is optional, so check with your insurance representative to see what coverage you have purchased.

In certain circumstances, homeowners who are unable to stay in their homes because of damage may be entitled to additional living expenses and Vasey said that would be on an individual basis.

“I would think they would be given temporary accommodations, assuming they do have insurance,” said Vasey. "If they don’t, I believe the city would help find something for them.”

The City of Barrie has a trailer on-site with city staff available to help residents with building assessments, safety and information for moving forward.

Residents can visit the on-site trailer or call the dedicated tornado assistance line at 705-728-8442.

According to a statement from the city, approximately 60 homes are currently deemed unsafe, as determined by city building inspectors.

Vasey said he is a longtime Barrie resident and said that while the scene in the city's south east end is not good, it isn’t near as bad as the infamous tornado that hit the city 36 years ago.

“I grew up in Barrie and was here for the 1985 tornado and that was much worse. This is more localized; that one had more widespread damage, with loss of life,” said Vasey. “The winds were stronger and many more buildings were completely demolished, townhouse complexes were levelled.”

Alectra is reporting that there are less than 20 homes and businesses without power at this time. 

Alectra will provide information on doors in the affected area. Those connected to InnPower can refer to their Outage Map for updates.

Some tips for starting a claims process are to assess and document the damage; taking photos is best. 

People are reminded to call their insurance representative or insurer’s claims department to report their damage and to keep notes and be as detailed as possible when providing information. They should also keep all receipts related to cleanup. 

Some homes that were damaged but remain habitable may have water service turned off. People returning home who need their water turned back on or have questions about water service are to call 705-726-4242 (follow the prompts if after-hours).

Shawn Gibson

About the Author: Shawn Gibson

Shawn Gibson is a staff writer based in Barrie
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