Alison Griffiths

My dog bit a school bus driver on the bum. Unannounced, she had opened a driveway gate, driven on to our farm property and gotten out to check turn around space for the school bus come fall. Ben, our German Shepherd standing guard in plain sight, decided to herd her right back into her car - with a little nip on her ample tush for encouragement.

Frankly, I'd never venture out of my car on a rural property with Beware of Dog signs posted and no owner in sight. That would be dumb and dangerous! Nonetheless, we apologized, made sure she was okay and sent her on her way.

It was only when we renewed our insurance the next year that my husband and I discovered the driver made a claim for the bite and our insurance company had settled.

While annoyed that the company could do this without informing us, I was also very happy not to have been saddled with a $4,500 bill for pain, suffering and stupidity.

Fast forward to 2012 when a sewage backup inundated the main floor of our home and cascaded into the basement full of, well, a lifetime of basement stuff. When it happened I panicked, as I could not recall if we were covered for such things.

My husband and I, out of the country at the time, had a bad few hours until we reached the insurance company. Fortunately, the more than $40,000 of damage and loss was completely covered (minus a standard $2,000 deductible.)

Wood Allen once said, "There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman?" After the settlement I would have happily invited the salesman, broker and adjuster to dinner for the next decade.

According to a recent TD Insurance survey I'm not alone in getting a C- on insurance policy knowledge. Nearly 30 per cent of Canadians aren't sure what their insurance covers. And I'm betting that when it comes to the minutiae of coverage - sewage backup versus flood from without or within — that figure would be much higher.

Despite this lack of knowledge, fully 70 of Canadians are worried about protection in a natural disaster. Extreme weather events are on the rise in many parts of Canada so this is clearly something we all need to know. I've always been a bit more attuned to acts of Mother Nature than many of my friends because I have lived in the country for a long time — and we've actually been hit by lightning and brushed by a tornado.