03/07/2014 17:55 EST | Updated 05/07/2014 05:59 EDT

Ice storm settlement cheques mailed to claimants’ 1998 addresses

Nearly one million Quebecers eligible for settlement cheques in an ice storm class action lawsuit may never receive them.

The cheques are being sent to the addresses where people lived in 1998.

“A lot of people moved, of course, and I know it can cause problems for some consumers, but the way we made the settlement we thought it was the best way to get money to consumers," said Alexandre Plourde, a lawyer for Option consommateurs — the consumer advocacy group that launched the class action lawsuit.

During the ice storm in 1998, almost one million Quebecers were forced to leave their homes.

At the time, insurance companies refused to cover their living expenses.

After a long legal battle mounted by Option consommateurs, 19 insurance companies agreed to a settlement last fall to pay out a total of $52 million — or  $50.92 per claimant.

Option consommateurs says while it won’t cover the cost of what most people spent, it's a symbolic victory in one of the largest class action lawsuits in Canadian history.

"People who didn't move since 1998 have absolutely nothing to do.  They will get automatically a cheque at their home,” Plourde said.

For those who think they are eligible but have moved in the last 16 years, Plourde says there’s still a way to get their money.

“They must do an address change [online].”

Cheques that are not cashed by August will be cancelled, but insurance companies will still have to pay out the full $52 million.

Any leftover money from uncashed cheques after the first round of payments will be divided equally among known claimants, who will then receive a second cheque.