07/27/2012 04:37 EDT | Updated 09/26/2012 05:12 EDT

Severe weather events spur insurance industry changes

The increasing frequency of the kind of severe weather that uproots trees and rips roofs from Ontario homes is also forcing changes in the insurance industry.

Home insurance rates are likely to rise and firms have already processed hundreds of millions of dollars due to hail, water and structural damage this summer in the province, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

In the 1990s, a roof blowing off a building was an unusual insurance claim. Now, it's part of the norm, said Pete Karageorgos, a manager with the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

"The majority of events back then were fires and theft, and nowadays we, as an industry, are seeing the majority of the claims payouts are related to severe weather and water damage," he said.

Storms that used to occur once every 50 years are becoming regular events, Karageorgos said, which has driven up costs.

"Cost increases — meaning more payouts are made because there are more claims being submitted — that will ultimately result in greater premium costs as well," he said.

'A wall of water'

Don Wagorn watched Monday's heavy storm blow in from the shores of Norway Lake near Calabogie.

"I looked out the front and it was just a wall of water. It was being picked up by the wind and thrown against the building," he said.

The storm damaged his roof and threw two of his neighbours’ roofs on to his property.

Now he's cleaning up and waiting for the insurance cheque.

"The insurance company is fine with the building and covering any damages to the building, but as far as the trees down, they won't," Wagorn said.

As for what can be covered, that includes damage from wind, hail, falling trees and water blowing into a building, but flooding is not covered.