Broken windows, battered homes, dented cars, and flooded streets bore testament to an “apocalyptic” thunderstorm that buffeted Calgary in early June. The damage was widespread, and many drivers were left wondering whether their car insurance covers them for damage caused by weather events.
As the effects of climate change continue to impact communities across Canada, understanding the levels of car insurance coverage available is important. In Alberta, getting the correct auto insurance protection can provide a source of comfort when Mother Nature shows the brunt of her force.
Specifically, comprehensive coverage in the province can be the difference between being protected and being on the hook for pricey vehicle repairs.
Alberta’s Unique Weather and the Damage It Brings
Alberta sits in a unique geographic location that means it often gets hit by heavy storms and monster hail showers. The province’s central northern areas are known as “Hailstorm Alley” due to how much hail occurs each year.
Throw in a fair share of thunderstorms and floods, and it’s easy to see why Albertans are concerned about how their car insurance holds up after major weather events. Significant storms like the one that hit Calgary in June are par for the course in Alberta.
It’s a situation that is also playing out in several regions in Canada. Climate change is a major impactor on insurance and costs consumers millions of dollars each year. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) reports there was $1.3 billion in insured damages during 2019, while that figure was $1.9 billion in 2018.
While most insurance losses following a severe weather event are from damaged homes and commercial structures, cars are often an easy target for bad weather.
Can Auto Insurance Help?
For Albertans, the province’s auto insurance system can help to keep them protected if the worst should happen. However, there are some nuances worth knowing:
When am I not covered?
In the wake of a major storm or other natural disaster, drivers are often confused about whether their auto insurance protects them. Many wrongly assume they are covered for hail, water, and other weather-related damage. That’s not the case if you only have the minimum mandatory auto insurance.
In Alberta, minimum coverage looks like this:
- Section A: Personal liability and property damage (PLPD). PLPD is essentially your third-party liability that covers repair costs, medical bills, and other drivers when you are at-fault in a collision. Alberta’s laws state drivers must have a minimum of $200,000 PLPD.
- Section B: Accident benefits. This coverage provides financial aid for medical and rehab treatment, funeral expenses, death benefits and salary replacement. It covers you, your passengers, or a pedestrian who is injured or killed in a collision, regardless of where the fault lies.
Does comprehensive insurance cover weather-related damage?
If you have comprehensive or all-perils car insurance, you will be protected for all non-collision threats such as weather damage. IBC emphasized that in an advisory following the June storms in Calgary:
“Damage to vehicles from wind, hail or water is usually covered if you have purchased comprehensive or all-perils car insurance.”
In Alberta, comprehensive auto insurance is an optional coverage under section C of available policies. Many motorists who buy comprehensive will combine it with collision protection. Over 90% of Albertans choose to have some optional coverage on top of their mandatory policy.
Review Your Policy
If a storm hits and your vehicle is damaged, you will have peace of mind if you know your insurance has you covered. Still, many drivers are shocked to find they aren’t adequately protected when they file a claim. To avoid any nasty surprises, check your policy to make sure you’re covered for extreme weather.