U.S. insurance adjusters in Calgary to respond to damaging hail storm

U.S. insurance adjusters in Calgary to respond to damaging hail storm

The excerpted article was written by 

A parking lot outside a hotel in northeast Calgary is full of American licence plates from states like Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Utah and South Carolina.

CRU Adjusters confirmed to Global News it has hired adjusters from across the continent following the hail storm that pounded the city earlier this month.

About 300 adjusters have come in from outside Alberta, including about 100 from the United States, for a mix of desk and fieldwork.

A CRU executive said it has strict COVID-19 protocols  — employees are to stay in their rooms as much as possible, wear masks when leaving, and practise social distancing at customers’ homes. Customers are contacted by phone and do not come out of the home for exterior inspections. When CRU adjusters have to go into the home, homeowners are advised to stay in different rooms during assessments.

Before being dispatched to Calgary, the adjusters had to answer health, travel and close contact questionnaires for CRU, and are advised to immediately self-isolate if they have any coronavirus-related symptoms and to contact Alberta Health.

The adjusters have been in Calgary for nearly two weeks and have more than six weeks work ahead of them. CRU said they are not planning on bringing any more adjusters to the province.

The adjuster company said they worked with the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) and Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), who deemed these adjusters an essential service and provided them with necessary documentation.

And according to PHAC’s website, the documentation excuses the adjusters from having to self-isolate for 14 days.

Alberta Health said it was unaware of this group of adjusters coming to Calgary, and have begun working with PHAC to monitor the adjusters.

One hotel employee Global News spoke with said they ask out-of-province guests to respect social distancing, and even ask them to skip attending the complimentary breakfast.

In email from General Manager Ryan Ocbina said Element by Westin Calgary Airport follows all provincial and federal public health guidelines and follows a chain-wide commitment to cleanliness during the coronavirus pandemic. Ocbina’s hotels also provide complimentary masks and have removed all high-contact areas like self-serve coffee.

In an emailed statement, IBC confirmed it does help insurance companies “gain approval from relevant authorities to bring adjusters in from outside jurisdictions to assist consumers in response to catastrophic events, if required.

“Insurers are utilizing as many in-house and local claims representatives as possible to manage the high volume of claims from this event.”

But most insurance companies Global News spoke with confirmed they are using local adjusters.

“We can confirm that the vast majority of insurers have been using Canadian adjusters,” the ICB statement said.

“Some insurers utilize third-party independent catastrophic adjusting firms during catastrophic events to ensure clients get help as quickly as possible.”

Calgary residents cope with financial costs of hail storm not covered by insurance

The excerpted article was written by CALGARY

The hail storm came up fast, with a sound like someone was throwing rocks at their walls and roof.

Then Mona Kadri saw a white pellet fall and bounce inside her house. A loud crash followed as the skylight gave way, shattered by the force of the hail, sending glass and ceiling pieces crashing down. She and her husband sheltered in the living room away from the golf ball-sized hail that pounded her spiral staircase, while the family cat, Brie, cowered in the basement.

“It was like a war zone,” said Ms. Kadri, 60, of the June 13 evening when an unusually powerful cloudburst hit Calgary’s northeast neighbourhoods.

The hail and rain storm flooded streets, shredded siding on thousands of houses, hammered cars, smashed windows, and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. Even Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s house wasn’t spared.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in all of my years. It’s like the homes have been shot at, straight from the air,” said Tom Sampson, chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency.

For Ms. Kadri and thousands of others affected by the storm, the burning question two weeks later is how to pay insurance deductibles, and for repairs and cleanup not covered by their policies. With the losses mounting, the provincial government’s announcement Thursday that it will be providing emergency disaster funding only for uninsurable property losses – mainly overland flooding – as well as municipal cleanup costs, is unlikely to quiet the calls for help paying for property damage that was mostly caused by hail.

The storm has exacerbated what was already a difficult situation for the diverse, working-class quadrant of Calgary. The city’s unemployment rate sits above 13 per cent. Many lost work or shut down their businesses when COVID-19 hit. Ms. Kadri’s one-woman catering business has seen bookings dry up as large gatherings are cancelled because of the pandemic. Others lost their jobs when oil prices crashed in April.

“COVID has come at probably the worst time ever in Alberta’s history,” said Khalil Karbani, a spokesman for community associations and religious groups in the area.

“And over and above all that, we have this hail storm,” he said.

“It’s survival mode right now.”

Southern and central Alberta, and northeast Calgary and nearby Airdrie in particular, are well-known for the ferocity of their summertime hail storms. Over the past decade, there have been more than two dozen hail storms in Alberta with damages totalling more than $4-billion in insured losses.

The rate of severe weather events in Alberta has increased in the past decade. But it appears the damage from June 13 is much more widespread, and could be the most expensive of a run of major summer hail storm events since 2010. The mayor says the damage could hit $1-billion – and could perhaps have damaged more homes than the 2013 flood – while the province pegs it at $250-million to $500-million. The storm hit Calgary, Airdrie and Rocky View. In communities such as Saddle Ridge and Taradale, block after block is marked by houses with damaged siding, shattered windows, and vehicles that appear as if they were battered with hammers.

Given the size and velocity of the hail that came down, “my estimate is that any car parked on the road north of 64th Avenue is probably a write-off,” said George Chahal, councillor for Ward 5, the epicentre for damage.

This hail was unusually concentrated on a populous and urban area, upping the amount of property damage, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

Mr. Karbani argues some insurance companies are only willing to cover a portion of damages because of depreciation and are “hiding behind the fine print” of their policies. Some people, he noted, cancelled comprehensive auto insurance, which includes hail damage, while their vehicles were parked unused during the pandemic.

He said the province should set up a special disaster relief fund lest the damage to houses, cars and psyches be left unattended for months and years. “It has broken us in pieces already.”

Premier Jason Kenney agreed during a news conference Thursday that the timing of the storm could not be worse. But he said the government is not willing to pay above and beyond the Disaster Recovery Program, which doesn’t cover hail, sewer backup and insurance deductibles.

“If the government steps in and starts making payments for insurable private property, that would create a very serious moral hazard where people would – in the future – say they have no need to insure their property.”

The Premier added that such a move would effectively “bail out” insurance companies, as they wouldn’t face the impetus to make good on their policies if they knew the government was going to step in.

As of midday Thursday, the Insurance Bureau of Canada said more than 35,000 insurance claims related to the storm had been made. More claims are coming in every hour, said Rob de Pruis, a spokesman for the industry group.

People should have been aware of the limitations of their policies when they purchased them, he said, and some made the choice to purchase a less extensive policy to keep their premiums lower.

“An insurance policy is not a maintenance policy,” he added.

Mr. Kenney pledged his government will push insurance companies to honour policies, and “do so generously, erring on the side of the claimants.”

Source: The Globe and Mail

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Singh wants Ottawa to send military allegations of nursing home neglect to RCMP

OTTAWA _ NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he wants to see the RCMP investigate conditions in long-term care homes in Ontario following allegations in a report of neglect and abuse in five homes being helped by the military.

Singh says he has written to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair saying the Canadian Forces’ report on the conditions they found should be referred to the RCMP and, should cases be found of corporate criminal neglect, that criminal charges should be laid.

He called the allegations “appalling” and said Ottawa must take swift actions to address the situation.

He is also calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to bring the long-term care system under the Canada Health Act, blaming many of the problems in these centres on the for-profit model under which many seniors’ homes in Canada operate.

The military report, prepared after troops were sent into five homes overwhelmed by COVID-19 outbreaks, details “horrific” allegations of insect infestations, aggressive resident feeding that caused choking, bleeding infections, and residents crying for help for hours.

Allegations also included failure to isolate COVID-19-positive patients from the rest of the home and a host of hygiene issues involving everything from contaminated catheters to dangerous pressure ulcers.

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