Wildfire Situation in Alberta: IBC is here to help – safety is top priority

As wildfires force a number of Albertans to evacuate their homes, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is reaching out with information and advice.

“Our thoughts are with those whose lives have been disrupted by the wildfires. The top priority right now is the safety of those affected,” said Celyeste Power, Vice-President, Western, IBC. “The insurance industry is here to help. Anyone with questions about their home, car or business insurance can call their insurance representative or IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC (1-844-227-5422) or email askibcwest@ibc.ca.”

What insurance covers

Almost all home and business insurance policies cover fire damage. If residents have to leave their homes because of a mandatory evacuation order issued by civil authorities, most homeowner’s and tenant’s insurance policies will provide coverage for reasonable additional living expenses for a specified period of time. Your insurance representative is at the ready to clarify the details of your policy.

The claims process

If you have been affected by the wildfires, when safe to do so:

  • List all damaged or destroyed items. Taking photos can be helpful.
  • Call your insurance representative and/or company.
  • If possible, assemble proofs of purchase, photos, receipts and warranties. Keep damaged items unless they pose a health hazard.
  • Keep all of the receipts related to cleanup.

If you have been displaced by the wildfires:

  • Ask your insurance representative what living expenses you’re entitled to and for what length of time.
  • Keep the receipts for your living expenses.

Next steps

  • Once you have reported a loss to your insurance representative, you will be assigned a claims adjuster. It may take some time, given the number of people affected by the wildfires, but the adjuster will contact you.
  • The claims adjuster will investigate the circumstances of your loss, examine the documents you provide and explain the process. Take notes during the conversations and ask questions if you need clarification.
  • Your insurance company will ask you to complete a Proof of Loss form, to list the property and/or items that have been damaged or destroyed, with the corresponding value or cost of the damage or loss. You must sign and swear that the statements you make in the Proof of Loss form are true. Ask your insurance representative or claims adjuster to clarify anything you are unsure about.

To learn more about wildfires and wildfire safety, visit IBC’s website.

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 in Canada. 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 126,000 Canadians, pays $9 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $54.7 billion.

For media releases and more information, visit IBC’s Media Centre at www.ibc.ca. Follow us on Twitter @IBC_West or like us on Facebook. 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

Society, individuals pay hefty price for private vehicles in Calgary

Driving is by far the most expensive option for getting around; walking and cycling generate savings

Drew Anderson · CBC News

Driving is by far that most expensive way to get around Calgary, both for individuals and society as a whole, according to a new travel cost calculator released by the city.

The calculator uses various data, like costs to maintain roads and sidewalks, cost of insurance and collisions, costs of congestion, costs of pollution, as well as health-care savings from exercise.

Results are calculated for each kilometre travelled either by walking, cycling, transit or driving.

“It’s not a perfect measurement, but it gives people a general understanding of the costs and benefits of their choices,” said Ward 7 Coun. Druh Farrell.

“It doesn’t monitor ties to environmental benefits, for example. It doesn’t measure quality of life and well-being — and we know that being active helps with with well-being and mental health — and it doesn’t measure equity.”

The costs

It costs approximately $1.25 for each kilometre travelled by an individual in a vehicle.

Factors that make it the most costly option include maintaining and operating roads, additional infrastructure, collisions, congestion and the personal costs of maintenance, insurance and more.

There are no redeeming savings associated with motorized vehicles.

The same is true for transit, although its costs are significantly reduced (67 cents per kilometre) and the majority of the costs are borne by the public, as opposed to the individual.

The benefits of walking, biking

Where the calculator finds benefits is in the physical exercise and health cost savings association with walking or cycling. Walking is the most cost-effective option, although it’s not always a viable alternative for long commutes.

Walking earns individuals and society 25 cents per kilometre, while cycling nets one penny for each kilometre.

“We need to be talking about a complete picture of how people get around in Calgary,” said Farrell.

“Yes, there may be trips that are most appropriate made by car or by transit, but within the neighborhood context, we’re seeing more and more interest in active living.”

She says it’s necessary to stop separating uses and start talking about a complete transportation network that includes all forms of travel.

Impact of decisions

Chris Blaschuk, manager of city’s Next 20 project, which is looking at long-range land use and transportation plans, said the city used data from its budgets for costs such as infrastructure and transit operations. It looked at national research to estimate some of the health and environmental costs.

“We wanted to create a tool for citizens that would really show them all those costs that are being paid for not just by themselves as individuals but through their taxes, or perhaps paid by others, to help show some of the different impacts of their travel choices,” he said.

Blaschuk said the main motivation for creating the calculator was to inform individuals, but that it also provides a simple template that could help inform city decision-making.

For Blaschuk, the biggest takeaway was the simple reminder of just how expensive it is to own and operate a private vehicle.

“You know, we’ve been talking to young people through our Next 20 project and that’s the main feedback they give us, this ‘I can’t afford a car,’ and this sort of helps shed some light on why that is,” he said.


Future floods: Climate change’s role in reshaping natural disasters

Warming planet increases the likelihood of flooding in the future, says federal government

CBC News

As water levels rose along the St. John River this spring, many New Brunswickers had two reactions.

First, they prepared urgently for the flood.

Then they asked themselves whether this was evidence of climate change — whether two major floods in two years proves that human activity has altered the forces of nature.

“Things have certainly changed,” Elaine Price of Mill Cove said as she watched the water rise toward her home last month.

In Chipman, Rhonda Saulnier was asking the same question.

“It’s unbelievable,” she said.

“So now that it’s happened two years in a row, like everybody I’m afraid it’s the new norm. I’m praying it’s not.”

Water levels peaked in Fredericton on April 23 at 8.36 metres, compared with a peak of 8.31 metres last year. In Saint John, the peak was 5.53 metres compared with 5.76 metres last year.

For the second straight year, homes were evacuated. For the second straight year, the Trans-Canada Highway was closed downriver from Fredericton.

Even officials who oversee flood response seemed taken aback.

“When this event happened last year, we were under the impression this was a historical event, and two years in a row, the historical event happened,” said Ahmed Dassouki, the director of operations at the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure.

“It’s a new day, and two years in a row is telling us we can’t just do the same thing,” Premier Blaine Higgs told reporters.

Yes, this is climate change — probably

Is this climate change?

The answer isn’t straightforward, but the consensus is: yes, probably, likely.

“You can’t attribute one event to climate change,” said Barrie Bonsal, a senior research scientist with Environment Canada, who co-authored a major report on climate change released last month.

“But as we warm the atmosphere, and we see associated impacts, we are increasing the probability of certain types of events that are associated with warming.”



Provinces asking feds for $138 million to help buy out flooded properties

By Jordan Press


OTTAWA _ Flood-ravaged provinces are asking the federal government to provide almost $138 million to move or buy out homeowners affected by previous years’ inundations, according to new data that gives a glimpse into the national costs of helping residents leave floodplains.

Calculations based on previous experience suggest that the total cost of giving up on 100,000 of the most endangered structures could run into the billions.

Only four times in the past decade have provinces turned to the federal treasury for help to move homes twice in New Brunswick, and once each in Quebec and Yukon.

In New Brunswick’s case, the federal government picked up more than 80 per cent of the $1.8 million spent to buy out a combined 36 properties after flooding in 2008 and 2010.

Public Safety Canada says provinces and territories have asked for $137.9 million in federal money to help cover costs related to 10 floods, but the dollar figure is only an estimate and doesn’t include this year’s.

The department says it expects to get more requests for financial help to relocate homes as the frequency of extreme flooding increases and wants to know how much provinces and territories have spent on it without federal help.

All that data will feed into a debate governments are having about whether it’s better to move people off floodplains rather than repeatedly pay for repairs.

Federal help for disaster relief kicks in once costs surpass what lower levels of government could reasonably be expected to cover on their own.

Within the program, called the “Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements,” is a provision that allows provinces to claim the cost of relocating residents to areas less prone to floods or other disasters. Federal funding can also be used to buy out affected homeowners and dismantle damaged buildings.

How much gets doled out depends on the design of the buyout program, which has become a point in discussions between Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and his provincial and territorial counterparts.

A program could provide money up to a pre-set maximum, which is what Quebec’s government is offering this year up to $200,000 to anyone with severe damage to their homes. Or it could pay the full estimated value of a home before it was flooded, as Alberta did after flooding there in 2013.

In that case, about one-third of homeowners who were offered buyouts took them within a year of the offer, costing the province $81 million in 2014. Alberta covered the bill itself, without federal assistance.

Based on the data available, the federal government has paid, on average, about $41,000 for each property owner who accepted previous buyouts in New Brunswick.

This year, New Brunswick is offering up to $160,000 for each home where damage exceeds 80 per cent of its pre-flood value. Owners can sell their buildings and have them demolished and levelled but retain their land. They can also sell out entirely, or take up to $160,000 to use on repairs in exchange for giving up any future disaster aid.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada estimates about 100,000 homes out of the 14 million dwellings Statistics Canada counted in the 2016 census _ are at the highest risk of repeat flood damage. A buyout program for those properties could cost the federal treasury hundreds of millions of dollars based on the limited information available about previous federal disaster help, in addition to what provincial governments put up.

“No government bailout program or insurance program is going to be able to deal with those repeated cases where you’re going to have repeated claims in a short period of time. That’s where you may focus buyouts,” said Craig Stewart, vice-president of federal affairs with the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

“In our view, the calculation is buy out a few and then protect and insure the rest.”

Mehda Joshi claims Allstate wanted to deny insurance to visible minority drivers in Brampton, Ont.

Read more

Roadblocks ahead for Alberta drivers trying to get insurance

Alberta drivers are being cautioned about a possibly bumpy road ahead when it comes to insurance coverage.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) said due in part to a five per cent cap on auto insurance rate increases implemented by the previous NDP government, insurers are being forced to make some changes.

An IBC spokesperson told Global News that while the cap — which is still in place — may have seemed like a good idea to protect consumers, it has caused significant problems.

“Right now we have a very unhealthy market here in Alberta,” said Celyeste Power, IBC vice president of Western Canada.

“Claims costs have been spiraling out of control for the past few years. Insurers are losing up to $0.30 on every single dollar that they’re bringing in.”

IBC also said the industry is not turning a profit through its investments, although it didn’t explain exactly how much it’s losing.

It did, however, send a letter to the Alberta premier, outlining what it called significant issues that drivers, brokers and agents are facing.

“That’s something that we’re certainly concerned about,” Jason Kenney said in response to the letter. “I’d be happy to sit with the insurance bureau and discuss that.”

But insurers aren’t the only ones unhappy these days.

Calgarian Scott Ramsay was one of many motorists who contacted Global News after he received a lengthy renewal form from his auto insurer Aviva Canada.

“Just the way it was worded kind of ticked me off,” Ramsay said.

Not only did he feel he had to go through hoops to be renewed for coverage, he also was informed he’d have to pay his full premium up front.

Aviva Canada told Global News: “Fundamentally, we’re just working to make sure we have accurate and updated information so that we have a full understanding of our customers’ needs.”

Aviva added it’s doing this because, during the year, drivers can get into accidents or get tickets and the company can’t accurately rate or assess the risk, or determine the proper premium for renewal.

IBC said this doesn’t mean Alberta drivers won’t get insurance, but they may not get renewed automatically, be allowed to pay in installments or be covered for what’s considered optional coverage.

“What is becoming more difficult, and the longer we go on in this unhealthy market, is finding the non-mandatory coverage like theft or hail coverage for example,” Power said.

Power said IBC is optimistic a solution will be found for all sides, but that solution won’t necessarily mean lower rates.

According to IBC, Alberta drivers already pay the third highest insurance rates in Canada.

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