Insurance payouts to drought-hit farmers will likely near $1 billion

BY JODIE SINNEMA, EDMONTON JOURNAL

EDMONTON – Insurance payouts could likely near $1 billion this year for the 80 per cent of Alberta farmers hit hard by this year’s drought, provincial agriculture representatives said Thursday.

Crop insurance programs have already paid out $70 million to farmers who have lost crops to drought, grasshoppers or hail. That number is expected to rise to between $700 million and $900 million as farmers head into harvest and file claims. That estimate is based on the best, most optimistic weather forecasts, so if there are more hail storms or an early frost, the number will rise.

Last year, when many farmers harvested bumper crops, the same programs paid out $371 million.

A $2-billion reserve fund in the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation’s insurance program, collected through premiums over the past 10 years, will cover the additional costs so neither the province nor taxpayers will have to foot the bill.

“There is no doubt that the early snow melt, dry spring and recent hail storms have taken a toll,” Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier said Thursday.

“While significant rainfall in July has provided some relief to portions of the province, we know that areas of the province remain very dry and some producers are still struggling.”

The rain has been spotty, with some farmers growing fairly good crops while their neighbours’ crops are stunted. In general, the worst hit areas are in northern Alberta in the Peace Country region, counties north of Edmonton, a strip in the province’s southeast and near Cypress in the south. Three counties added their names Thursday to the areas declaring agricultural emergencies, bringing the total to 17 counties declaring severe drought states. About two-thirds of those counties are north of Edmonton, including Lac Ste. Anne and Westlock, Thorhild and Sturgeon counties.

About 80 per cent of Alberta farmers are expected to feel the drought’s financial impact, with half of those likely taking in half the typical crop.

“What does that look like? If you take it where half your revenue from the year is gone, that’s really what it comes down to,” said Merle Jacobson, chief operating officer for Agriculture Financial Services Corporation, which administers the insurance programs for farmers. “It really makes it a challenge.”

The province estimates crop yields will be 25 to 30 per cent smaller than the average over the past five years. That’s similar to the drought in 2009, but less severe than the one in 2002 that devastated large areas of the province.

To help out beyond the typical insurance programs, the province is working with municipalities to find underused Crown land that hard-hit farmers could sub-let to feed their animals. Farmers filling up their dugouts and reservoirs with water pumped from provincial lakes and rivers will also pay half the rental fees they usually do, with the reduced pumping fees retroactive to April 1. About 50 people have used the water pumping program this year, although the province is prepared to see up to 1,400 clients coming forward to fill dugouts for cattle.

READ MORE HERE: Insurance payouts to drought-hit farmers will likely near $1 billion

Insurance payouts

Last year, when stellar crops created an ideal year, the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation spent $371 million on several crop insurance programs. That amounted to 50 per cent of premiums brought in.

During the last significant drought in 2009, insurance payouts amounted to about 111 per cent of premiums paid.

In 2002, during a one-in-100-year drought, insurance payouts were just shy of 400 per cent of premiums.

This year’s drought insurance payout is estimated to be 120 to 125 per cent of premiums.

Canada: Are you insured for ‘acts of God’?

By Steve Morales | FindLaw Canada

Some recent wild weather, including Ontario tornadoes and heavy flooding in Alberta and Saskatchewan, have a lot of homeowners checking their insurance policies.

It raises a question that some people take for granted? Are you covered for natural disasters or “acts of God”?

First off, and to get technical, “act of God” isn’t used in Canada. It’s more of an American expression. In Canada, insurers use “peril” to describe those catastrophic unexpected events that can damage your home and property. However, you’re likely not protected against all perils.

Home insurance policies typically cover “named perils,” or disasters specifically designated in your policy. If you don’t see “tornado” or “earthquake” clearly named in your policy, there’s a good chance you’re not covered for it.

Damage from natural and unpredictable events such as lightning, wind storms or hail are generally covered in a basic home insurance package.

However, there are many uninsured perils that could affect you. These are predictable events that generally aren’t covered, although you can sometimes buy a broader coverage or specific policies to cover them.

Flood gates

A major one is flooding.  It’s the most common type of natural disaster in Canada and many companies simply don’t cover it. In insurance terms though, “flooding” means an overland deluge from rivers or lakes, not damage from a broken water main.

If you live in a floodplain, as many Canadians do, then a flood is considered a predictable event and you likely can’t get coverage for it.

Earthquakes might be a more surprising uninsured peril. While you probably don’t think of Canada being a hotbed of earthquakes, the country actually experiences around 4,000 every year. Many are minor, but the point is they’re somewhat predictable and they’re often not covered in standard home insurance either.

Of course, policies and providers vary greatly, so maybe you’re covered for all this stuff and you’re not sweating the floods sweeping through the prairies.

The bottom line though, is not to assume you’re covered. Just because something seems like it’ll be covered, that doesn’t make it so.

See more at: findlaw.ca

Manulife core profit rises on wealth management, insurance gains

By John Tilak

TORONTO (Reuters) – Manulife Financial Corp MFC.TO reported a higher adjusted quarterly profit that was in line with market expectations on Thursday, boosted by growth in its wealth management and life insurance operations.

Core profit at its wealth and asset management business climbed 20 percent in the second quarter, while earnings at its insurance division rose 22 percent. The company says core profit is a measure of underlying earnings capacity that excludes the impact of short-term factors such as fluctuations in interest rates.

Canada’s largest insurer said assets under management and administration rose to C$883 billion ($670.87 billion), up 39 percent, as it was helped by the acquisition of New York Life’s retirement plan services.

Manulife, which has a presence in Canada, the United States and Asia, recorded double-digit earnings growth in its Asian and Canadian operations.

The company has been expanding in Asia, where core earnings rose 30 percent to C$300 million, making up about a third of its total profit. Growth was supported in particular by sales in Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.

“Asia’s been a substantial part of our earnings for some time, but we have gotten momentum over the last several quarters into our core earnings,” Chief Financial Officer Steve Roder said in an interview.

A sales push launched a few years ago and a move to increase regional diversification within the continent are starting to reflect on the bottom line, he said.

The company is also on track to meet its earnings target for 2016, Roder added. Manulife has previously said that it expects to record more than C$4 billion in core earnings in 2016.

The Toronto-based company earned C$600 million, or 29 Canadian cents a share, in the second quarter, compared with C$943 million, or 49 Canadian cents a share, a year earlier.

Beyond the impact of a steeper yield curve in several markets on net income, the company was also hurt by acquisition-related charges, which involved C$54 million in integration costs involving recent deals.

Core profit climbed to 44 Canadian cents per share, from 36 cents a share a year ago.

 

 

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June storm in Ontario tops $30 million in insured damage

TORONTO, July 28, 2015 /CNW/ – Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) reports that the insured damage caused by the heavy rains and strong winds that swept southern Ontario on June 22 is estimated at more than $30 million, according to the preliminary estimate by Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ)*

The heavy rain in Toronto and London caused localized flooding. In Toronto, flooding was mainly limited to pooling water, causing the closure of intersections and cancellation of several early-morning GO trains. Basement flooding was also reported across the Greater Toronto Area.

In certain parts of London, the rain overwhelmed the sewer system. The resulting sewer backup caused residential basements to flood and affected commercial properties, including White Oaks Mall.

In other parts of southern Ontario, strong winds brought down trees, causing power outages. With the relentless lightning contributing to outages, at least 100,000 Hydro One customers lost power.

“Weather events that used to happen every 40 years can now happen every six years,” said Ralph Palumbo, Vice-President, Ontario, IBC. “In recent years, we’ve seen first-hand the impact that storms can have. Storms are more frequently damaging our homes and business properties.”

Insurers continue to counsel consumers on the need to understand their risks and take action to reduce their property’s vulnerability to damage. Before another storm hits, consumers should contact their insurance representatives for information on their policies and what types of coverage best suits their individual circumstances.

For more information on home, auto and business insurance, phone IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC (1‑844‑227‑5422) or visit www.ibc.ca.

* This figure is based on a preliminary estimate from Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ), which compiles and combines comprehensive insured loss amounts and related information to serve the risk management needs of the insurance and reinsurance industries.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada
Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies make up 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market inCanada. For more than 50 years, IBC has worked with governments across the country to help make affordable home, auto and business insurance available for all Canadians. IBC supports the vision of consumers and governments trusting, valuing and supporting the private P&C insurance industry. It champions key issues and helps educate consumers on how best to protect their homes, cars, businesses and properties.

P&C insurance touches the lives of nearly every Canadian and plays a critical role in keeping businesses safe and the Canadian economy strong. It employs more than 118,000 Canadians, pays $6.7 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $48 billion.

For media releases and more information, visit IBC’s Media Centre at ibc.ca. If you have a question about home, auto or business insurance, contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC.

If you require more information, IBC spokespeople are available to discuss the details in this media release.

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

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