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Are you covered for weather damage to your home?

Under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act, warranties do not apply to damage resulting from an act of God.

These days the news is full of reports of extreme weather, both here at home and around the world. This past summer we had strong winds, heavy rainfall and even tornadoes – and it’s hard to know what weather surprises the winter may hold.

When extreme weather happens, it’s not unusual for homeowners and builders alike to call Tarion asking whether storm-related damage is covered under the warranty plan or is considered an “act of God” and excluded from coverage.

Under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act, warranties do not apply to damage resulting from an act of God. An act of God is a natural event that is unexpected and unavoidable and causes damage that is beyond the control of the builder. Examples include tornadoes, earthquakes and extreme winds.

New homes that are designed and built to Ontario Building Code standards are expected to withstand Ontario’s normal weather conditions – like ice, snow, high winds and heavy rains. This means that the act of God exclusion only applies to extraordinary occurrences or conditions of nature that could not have been reasonably foreseen or guarded against.

For example, a high wind is not an act of God unless it is of such exceptional strength that no builder in Ontario could be reasonably expected to anticipate its force.

So where does that leave you if you’re a new homeowner whose home has been damaged by an ice storm, heavy snowfall or high winds? You should contact your builder, who in turn should inspect the damage to determine if warranty coverage applies. If it’s not covered, you may be able to make a claim for it under your home insurance.

If a homeowner reports damage after a weather event and the builder believes the act of God exclusion applies, the onus is on the builder to prove it. For example, if roof shingles on a newly built home flew off on a windy day, the builder would be required to replace the shingles unless the builder can prove the shingles were installed properly and became detached only because there was an extraordinary wind.

As we contend with Mother Nature’s extremes, what constitutes normal Ontario weather may change and so may the requirements for building homes to withstand it.

In the meantime, if you have questions about your warranty coverage or the act of God exclusion, you can contact Tarion.

About the Author: Howard Bogach is president and CEO of the Tarion Warranty Corp.

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