BC & Nova Scotia homeowners can now be insured for storm surge damage

Today, The Co-operators announced the addition of storm surge coverage to its Comprehensive Water product, becoming the first and only insurer in Canada to offer it. Waves caused by storms and hurricanes, known as storm surges, present a significant flood risk, especially in coastal regions where extreme weather patterns have noticeably intensified with the changing climate. Until now, storm surges have been uninsurable.

“Overland flooding has been identified as the most pervasive and costliest cause of damage to Canadian homes, yet most are inadequately protected against this growing risk. As a co-operative, it’s our priority to protect the financial security of Canadians. This is why we first introduced overland flood insurance in Canada,” said Rob Wesseling, president and CEO of The Co-operators. “Now, with the inclusion of storm surge coverage, we’re adding another layer of protection and providing peace of mind for those who need it most.”

Comprehensive Water is the only overland flood insurance in Canada available to those at the highest risk of flooding. Homeowners in British Columbia and Nova Scotia can now add this coverage to protect against the most common causes of water damage: overflowing lakes, rivers and creeks, sewer or septic backup, heavy rain and storm surge.

“The insurance industry has a critical role to play in building resilience in Canadian communities and addressing major risks like flooding,” said Paul Kovacs, executive director, Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction. “It’s encouraging to see companies like The Co-operators providing risk-appropriate options for coverage, while taking an active role in educating Canadians on their flood risk.”

According to a study by Partners for Action Network, 94 per cent of Canadians living in high-risk flood zones are unaware of their risk. To get a personalized flood assessment, Canadians can visit water.cooperators.ca.

In 2015, The Co-operators became the first Canadian insurer to offer overland flood insurance in Alberta and expanded this coverage to Ontario in 2016. Today, more than a quarter of a million Canadians are covered by the organization’s Comprehensive Water product. The flood model used by The Co-operators is recognized as one of the most advanced in Canada, and incorporates data on elevation, soil, rainfall, river flow, government-controlled defences like dams and channels, and other factors that help predict areas at risk of flooding.

Homeowners can add this coverage by contacting a local Co-operators insurance and financial advisor, using the “Find an Advisor” function at www.cooperators.ca.

About The Co-operators:

The Co-operators Group Limited is a Canadian co-operative with more than $41 billion in assets under administration. Through its group of companies it offers home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to sustainability. The Co-operators is listed among the Best Employers in Canada by Aon Hewitt and Corporate Knights’ Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada. For more information, visit www.cooperators.ca.

BACKGROUNDER: Flood facts and The Co-operators flood model

Flood facts:

  • In Canada, floods have surpassed home fires as the costliest cause of damage to homes.
  • 94% of Canadians living in high-risk flood zones are unaware of their risk and Less than 30% of Canadians are taking action to protect their property from flood risk, according to a recent study by Partners for Action.

THE IMPACT

  • $79,000The average cost to homeowners that suffered losses during the 2013 Calgary flood1.
  • $40,000: The average cost to homeowners that suffered losses during flooding during the 2013 GTA flood2.

The Co-operators flood model

What factors go into assessing water risk?
Working with the world’s most established and advanced flood risk modeling experts, we created a risk model that enables us to offer water damage insurance that includes overland flooding and risks associated with water, septic and sewer backup, accumulation of water from extreme rain, overflow from lakes, rivers and other nearby bodies of water, and storm surge or waves from a storm or hurricane.

This flood model is recognized as one of the most advanced tools in Canadian flood mapping. It incorporates data on elevation, soil, rainfall, river flow, government-controlled defences like dams and channels, and other factors that help predict areas at risk of flooding.

How is storm surge risk determined?
The risk of storm surge is assessed in many ways. This includes historical water and sea-level rise in coastal regions, digital elevation models and loss mitigation efforts.

Canadians can take action to protect themselves using the following tips:

  1. Inspect plumbing pipes for corrosion or leaks and make any necessary repairs. Avoid discarding fats, oils and grease down drains; they can cause clogs when they solidify.
  2. Install a water damage alarm to serve as an early warning. This will give you a chance to turn off the water to your home and minimize damage.
  3. Installing an automatic back-up pump to your existing sump pump if you have one. Batteries or a generator can be used to power the back-up pump.
  4. Installing a backwater valve.
  5. Install downspouts to direct water away from your home.
  6. Keep foundation and window wells clear of snow so melt water doesn’t accumulate.
  7. Seal any cracks in your foundation walls and basement floors where accumulated water might get in.
  8. Install window wells around your basement windows to keep water out of your basement. Check them each spring to make sure drains aren’t clogged with debris.
  9. Maintain your eaves troughs regularly to keep them clear of leaves, twigs and other debris so they can steer water away from your home.
  10. Consider using a rain barrel to collect overflow water to prevent accumulation around your home.
  11. Keep storm drains clear of leaves and other debris to keep water from accumulating outside your home.
  12. Review rain checklist for simple steps you can follow to adapt to risks during periods of heavy rainfall.

1 2017. “Rising Waters, Difficult Decisions: Findings and Recommendations from the Calgary Flood Project” Mount Royal’s Centre for Community Disaster Researchhttp://www.mtroyal.ca/AboutMountRoyal/MediaRoom/Newsroom/report-unaware-flood-risk.htm

2 A 2014 IBC Survey

SOURCE The Co-operators

The ice storm that wreaked havoc across Ontario and Quebec in mid-April left behind a hefty price tag.

Read more

To date, 89.5 per cent of funds raised have been spent or committed

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Real estate group fears homegrown pot risks fires, property damage

OTTAWA _ The Canadian Real Estate Association says Ottawa needs to put the brakes on letting people grow pot at home until it can better regulate it to prevent property damage and higher risks of crime and fires.

It is the latest criticism of the government’s legislation legalizing marijuana that is inching its way through the Senate as the government tries to make pot legal to buy, grow and sell across the country this summer.

The bill would allow individuals to grow up to four pot plants at home as long as they are below a certain height, but association CEO Michael Bourque says there are too many risks from home grow-ops that haven’t been addressed yet.

Bourque is one of several parties discussing the pot bill at the Senate social affairs committee this week.

Later today, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland will appear at the Senate foreign affairs committee to talk about how the bill may affect international commitments, including United Nations drug treaties.

Three Senate committees today are also expected to release preliminary reports on their views of the bill, including possible impacts on Indigenous communities, the border and some of the Criminal Code and judicial elements in the bill.

April storm caused more than $85 million in insured damage across Ontario & Quebec

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) reports that an early April storm affecting Ontarioand Quebec, brought severe rain, heavy snow, and damaging winds.  It resulted in more than $85 million in insured damage, according to Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ).  A review of recent severe weather damage shows that insured losses in Ontario alone have now surpassed half a billion dollars over the past twelve months.

Widespread wind damage was reported across several regions of Ontario and resulted in over 145,000 power outages and a destroyed home development in Niagara Region. The storm then tracked to Quebec. Of the damage, the majority was in Ontario, and largely resulted in home insurance claims. The snow led to poor driving conditions that resulted in car collisions in Quebec and Ontario, including a 50-car pile-up on Highway 400 in Barrie, Ontario.

“Insured losses from storms such as these are increasing rapidly. However this is only part of the picture. Taxpayers are also bearing the brunt of these costs since many losses are uninsured. We are witnessing more frequent, intense storms which we now know are attributable to climate change.” said Craig Stewart, Vice-President, Federal Affairs, IBC. “The present costs of climate change are real which is why urgent action is needed on adaptation as well as mitigation.”

While the insured damage from the early April storm is significant, this spring season in eastern Canada has been particularly harsh, and IBC expects that this event was only a prelude to other events to affect the region this spring. IBC will report on further damage from the Ontario ice storm in the coming weeks.

Over the past twelve months, a series of severe weather events have hit the province of Ontario resulting in more than $500 million in damage.  These events included:

  • March 2017 windstorm in Hamilton and Niagara region with damage over $100 million
  • April 2017 wind and water damage in Ottawa and Burlington of over $25 million
  • May 2017 flooding damage in Peterborough and Minden over $50 million
  • August 2017 flooding in the Windsor area topping $160 million in damage
  • October 2017 wind and flood damage in Kingston and Ottawa of almost $50 million
  • January 2018 winter storm damage in TorontoLondon and south western Ontario of nearly $10 million
  • February 2018 water and winter storm damage in southern Ontario of over $40 million

IBC reminds consumers that, especially because of changing spring weather conditions, it is vital to know what your policies cover and whether your home insurance policy includes overland flood protection. Check with your insurance representative to see what options are available. For more information on how to protect property against floods and other disasters, please 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 120,000 Canadians, pays $9 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $52 billion.

For media releases and more information, visit IBC’s Media Centre at www.ibc.ca. Follow IBC on Twitter @InsuranceBureau 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.

About CatIQ
Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ) delivers detailed analytical and meteorological information on Canadian natural and man-made catastrophes. Through its online subscription-based platform, CatIQ combines comprehensive insured loss indices and other related information to better serve the needs of the insurance and reinsurance industries, the public sector and other stakeholders. To learn more, visit https://www.catiq.com/.

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

Fort McMurray: Wildfire insurance claim deadline approaches

By Laura Beamish | fortmcmurraytoday.com

Just weeks away from the two-year insurance deadline for claims related to the May 2016 wildfires, Mayor Don Scott is feeling better after meeting with Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci after he was told the province could not extend the deadline for insurance companies.

In March, Scott sent a letter to Ceci, asking for insurance companies to extend the deadline. Last week, the province said they could not grant an extension as requested.

“We don’t have the ability to grant blanket exemptions with regard to folks who haven’t made claims,” said Ceci during a Wednesday visit to Fort McMurray. “What we can do and are doing is we’re insuring that the residents of Fort McMurray who need to have extensions have the support they need to request one.”

Ceci said that the government is working with the Insurance Bureau of Canada to make sure residents who need an extension are aware of their options.

“If a person is coming up against that two year timeline and they’re finding their insurance company is being somewhat slow or not supportive, they can contact the superintendent of insurance and the superintendent will get information both from the insurer and the insured and work to get that person an extension so that they can take the time they need to resolve their claim properly,” he said.

Scott said when he first heard the decision he was disappointed, but he was happy with how the meeting went, saying he understands that the government will try and help get the message out in other ways.

He said he is always worried there is someone out there that the message isn’t reaching and suggested that insurees be told directly about the deadline and their options, not simply relying on notices and messages on social media.

“I’m really asking the province to do a better job getting the message out,” said Scott. “We want him to understand the importance of that issue.”

Scott encourages to seek many options, including getting in touch with the Insurance Bureau of Canada, seeking legal advice, speaking with their own insurance company and speaking with the superintendent of insurance.

“It is critical that people talk and get advice,” said Scott.

The minister, mayor and councillors also discussed the importance of pipelines and their impact on the region, as well as key issues including homelessness and a potential ring road around Fort McMurray.

“It was a good, open, frank discussion,” said Ceci.

The superintendent of insurance can be contacted at 780-427-8322 or residents can get more information at finance.alberta.ca/insurance.

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