Leah Hansen · CBC News

One month after six tornadoes swept through the region, many homeowners are now coming face-to-face with the unwelcome reality of dealing with insurance claims.

“It’s just unending,” said Richard Henley, whose home was damaged in the Sept. 21 storm.

“We’re talking the fifth week now, and it’s still going on — nonstop letters, emails, phone calls [to an insurance adjuster].”

An EF-2 tornado with wind speeds of up to 220 km/h touched down in Henley’s neighbourhoood of Arlington Woods, knocking over hundreds of towering pine trees and causing massive damage.

Most of the fallen trees have since been removed, but the work of putting roofs back on all the damaged houses remains. As winter approaches, tarps cover gaping holes — a stop-gap measure against the elements.

Part of the issue may be the nature of insurance itself, said Pete Karageorgos, director of consumer and industry relations at the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

Filing insurance claims requires people to painstakingly chronicle every bit of damage, list every lost belonging and keep track of every expense. For many homeowners facing severe damage, it’s a new, frustrating reality, Karageorgos said.

“It can be a challenging process,” he said. “[There’s] sometimes a lack of awareness of how involved the process would be that can be frustrating for homeowners.”

‘A full-time job’

When the damage is severe — as is the case for many in Arlington Woods, Dunrobin, Craig Henry and Gatineau — it’s possible that the normally-sluggish process can slow down even further, Karageorgos said.

“There could be delays because of the amount of claims. There could be delays because each of these properties has to be inspected. And there’s building permits that have to be issued through the municipality,” he said.

Sean Devine, president of the Trend Arlington Community Association, said he’s also heard rumblings about delays.

“I keep on hearing from insurance companies that they’re overwhelmed,” he said.

“I understand that, but at the same time, you’re an insurance company. You need to have contingencies for this kind of thing.”



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