OTTAWA – Most people in Ontario and Quebec quickly moved away from the mayhem caused by the severe storms that hit the country’s most populous corridor in May.
Linda Leger is not one of them.
Leger, who lives in the city of Prescott-Russell in eastern Ontario, is one of many people battling insurance companies to pay for storm repairs, causing serious damage to their homes as winter approaches.
When Derecho struck on May 21, a chimney collapsed onto the roof of Léger’s home, and debris from the fallen tree blew out the propane inserts in her home, severely damaging the home’s heating system.
Strong winds of 140 km/h blew away her house, which she tried to close all the windows.
Six months later, Léger says no repairs have ever been made.
“At the moment, the chimney is still on the roof and the house has no heating. I got
After months of dealing with her insurance company, Dejardins, she has yet to receive news on how much the repairs will cost.
“I feel very underestimated by my company,” Leger said.
The Canadian Press reached out to Dejardins Insurance last week but received no response.
Leger said she had tried to explore the possibility of compensation from the state’s disaster assistance program, like Prime Minister Doug Ford had promised in May, but said she didn’t think she would be eligible.
Ford announced a Disaster Recovery Assistance Program for Ontario residents in May to assist residents with repairs. To qualify for the fund, local governments had to write to the state declaring the areas in need of the fund.
The application’s website states, “Applicants with insurance may be eligible for additional payments under the program only if the insurance coverage is insufficient to cover essentials.” Hmm.”
Several contractors and engineers who have come to inspect the Léger home estimate that the repairs will cost between $500,000 and $1 million.
Ottawa and surrounding local governments have sent a letter to Prime Minister Doug Ford urging the state to open its disaster recovery assistance program to the area. However, it has not yet been deployed, and Ottawa and other cities have not received a response to their inquiries.
The ongoing battle with insurance companies is not unique to Léger.
Ottawa resident Andrew Russier said his insurance company, an individual owned by the Desjardins Group, “disrespected” him and refused to pay the full amount of the damages.
“I would take $30,000 out of my pocket to fix the house, but I wouldn’t do it. I can’t afford it,” said Lussier.
Half of Lussier’s porch was destroyed, the other torn completely from the wall. His main concern is the two cracked rafters, which he fears won’t be able to withstand the weight of the snow in the winter.
He said contractors estimate the repairs will cost $130,000. The insurance company offered him $99,000.
He says there are conflicting ideas between what insurers think they need to do and what contractors say they actually need to do.
“My house is like a jigsaw of two different puzzles,” says Lussier.
Lussier has been in the military for 35 years and has paid premiums to the same company for the last 30 years. With his retirement looming less than a month away from him, paying $30,000 out of pocket is not in the budget.
He last spoke with his insurance company three weeks ago and has not heard from him since. His contractor says it takes about eight to 10 weeks to complete his work, not including ordering materials to repair the home.
Lussier’s said count. Katherine Kitts, who happens to be his next-door neighbor, has been struggling with getting no response from the government regarding assistance to residents and local government.
The city is also waiting for the state to honor its commitment to cover the city’s restoration costs, estimated at about $20 million, including repairing damage to local property and clearing debris.
This report by the Canadian Press was first published on November 7, 2022.
This article was produced with financial support from the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
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