Fifth anniversary of the June 2013 Alberta floods

Beginning on June 19, 2013 southern Alberta experienced extensive loss and damage from riverine flooding. More than 250 mm of rain fell over a 36 hour period in the foothills west and southwest of Calgary and began rapidly flowing east through the province’s river valleys bringing destruction across southern Alberta. This was the largest riverine flood damage event ever experienced in Canada, with insured damage exceeding $1.7 billion and total economic damage of approximately $6 billion.

Disaster mitigation and policy experts from the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) are available to answer media inquiries concerning the floods. Noted ICLR experts below are available to answer questions relating to the impacts of the event (physical and financial), progress to date on various provincial flood mitigation efforts and whether Alberta is prepared for the next major deluge.

Paul Kovacs is founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction at Western University. He is Canada’s leading authority on insurance, natural hazards and climate change and has been a contributing author to numerous international and Canadian reports on reducing the risk of loss from flood, earthquakes, severe wind and wildfire. He has written more than 200 publications and articles and is a passionate champion for insurance, disaster resilience and adaptation to climate extremes.

Dan Sandink is Director of Research for ICLR. He has led a significant portion of the Institute’s urban flood risk reduction work, and has authored or co-authored dozens of reports and articles on topics related to urban flooding and natural hazards. His work has focused on public risk perceptions, adoption of lot-level practices, insurance, climate change adaptation, lot-level flood protection technologies, inflow/infiltration, construction codes, and mitigation of wildland-urban interface fire and high wind risk for low-rise residential buildings, among other topics.

Both Kovacs and Sandink are authors of the ICLR report Best practices for reducing the risk of future damage to homes from riverine and urban flooding: A report on recovery and rebuilding in southern Alberta, available at www.iclr.org

Glenn McGillivray is Managing Director of ICLR. As an insurance writer and commentator, his work has been widely disseminated across Canada. He has written more than 225 magazine and journal articles, publications and blogposts on a range of issues. He has appeared on CBC’s The National and The Exchange, CTV’s Your Morning and Power Play, CBC Radio’s The Current and CP24, as well as a number of other television and radio news and interview programs. Additionally, he speaks and lectures regularly on subjects related to the area of property and casualty insurance and reinsurance and natural hazards.

Sophie Guilbault is Manager, Partnership Development. She completed her Masters at Tulane University in Disaster Resilience Leadership Studies and holds a Master of Architecture degree from Laval University. At ICLR, Sophie is leading the Cities Adapt research program, ICLR’s Quick Response Grant Program and MEOPAR research on hurricane warnings in Atlantic Canada. Sophie can provide interviews in both English and French.

Established in 1998 by Canada’s property and casualty insurers, ICLR is an independent, not-for-profit research institute based in Toronto and at Western University in London, Canada. ICLR is a centre of excellence for disaster loss prevention research and education. ICLR’s research staff is internationally recognized for pioneering work in a number of fields including wind and seismic engineering, atmospheric sciences, water resources engineering and economics. Multi-disciplined research is a foundation for ICLR’s work to build communities more resilient to disasters.

SOURCE Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction

4 Ways To Prepare For Water-Related Damage

Source: IBC:

In today’s world of extreme weather events, $1 billion has become the new normal for yearly catastrophic losses – most of this is due to water-related damage.

Flooding and related sewer backup damage is costly for homeowners, businesses, municipalities and insurance companies. But, there are steps you can take to help mitigate risk.

From ensuring that important documents are not stored in your basement to installing a sump pump, there are many ways to be proactive such as:

  1. Keep a current and detailed home inventory.
  2. If your neighbourhood is prone to flooding, take precautions throughout your house and property.
  3. Assemble a disaster safety kit.
  4. Create a 72-hour emergency preparedness plan ​for your family.

Rest Easier. Know What’s Covered.

Talk to your insurance representative to make sure you have appropriate coverage. Be aware that:

  • ​Damage to your home caused by the sudden and accidental bursting of plumbing pipes and appliances is usually covered by all home insurance policies.
  • Historically in Canada, home insurance policies haven’t covered loss or damage caused by overland flood damage, which occurs when bodies of water, such as rivers, dams overflow onto dry land. This has begun to change. Some Canadian insurers have started to offer overland flood coverage for policyholders but this type of coverage is new on the market and not all insurers are offering it. Check with yours to see if it is available and if you qualify for the coverage because if you live in a known flood plain, the coverage may not be available.
  • Water damage in a basement that backs up through sewers, floor drains, toilets and showers maybe covered if your policy covers sewer back up or you may have purchased the coverage as an optional endorsement. So speak to your insurance representative to understand what coverage and limits you have.
  • Damage to homes caused by hail or wind is usually covered. This includes damage caused by flying debris or falling branches or trees, or damage caused by water entering through sudden openings caused by wind or hail.
  • If Comprehensive or All Perils coverage has been purchased on your auto policy, damage to vehicles from wind, hail or water is usually covered. This coverage is not mandatory, so check your policy.
  • In certain circumstances, homeowners who must leave their home due to insurable damage are usually entitled to additional living expenses (ALE) speak to your insurance representative to understand the coverage you purchased.

Tips For Starting The Claim Process

  • Call your insurance representative or company. Most insurers have a 24-hour claims service. Be as detailed as possible when providing information.
  • List all damaged or destroyed items. If possible, assemble proofs of purchase, photos, receipts and warranties. Take photos of damage incurred and keep damaged items, unless they pose a health hazard.
  • Keep all receipts related to cleanup and living expenses if you’ve been displaced. Ask your insurance representative about what expenses you may be entitled to and for what period of time.

Insurance bureau has advice for residents who blame wind for flood damage

Industry group says adjusters evaluate ‘circumstances of the entire event’

Jordan Gill · CBC News

Private insurance companies in New Brunswick are urging people who suffered property damage during spring flooding to contact their agents directly to discuss their individual policies and whether wind damage is covered.

This comes after retired insurance agent Mac Burns launched a campaign to help people who have had their claims turned down because they don’t have flood coverage, even though in many cases the damage didn’t happen until powerful winds came up the first weekend in May.

Burns said that since the “But For The Wind” campaign began, he has been contacted by 23 people whose claims have been denied by insurance companies.

Erin Norwood, the Atlantic manager of government relations for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said people may not have “correct information.”

“When a claim is presented for loss or damage … the circumstances of the entire event are analyzed against the coverage terms and conditions,” she said.

Insurance ombudsman can help

Richard and Judy Ingram say their insurance adjuster attributes the damage in their cottage to the flood, although wind was the prime culprit. (CBC)

Richard and Judy Ingram said their insurance adjuster told them the damage to their cottage likely wouldn’t be covered because they didn’t have flood insurance.

But the Ingrams say the damage was actually caused by the wind, which their policy does cover.

Norwood said all factors that contributed to the damage will be taken into consideration by insurance companies.

Some retired insurance agents have banded together to form a task force to help get information to people who suffered wind damage on May 5 during the spring flood. The Insurance Bureau of Canada’s Erin Norwood is the Atlantic Manager of Government Relations, she says every policy is different and people need to check with their broker to get the correct information. 11:46

“Loss or damage from a single occurrence with multiple causes, such as this case, are adjusted and settled as one event. A policyholder doesn’t need to submit a water claim and then a distinct wind claim for the same occurrence.”

Norwood said if cottage owners have a complaint about an insurance adjuster’s findings, each company has an in-house ombudsman who can help.

“It is available, it’s there to be used, and if you do have concerns that’s where you should be sending them,” she said.

Urged to call insurance agents

Norwood said the best people to answer questions about a cottage owner’s insurance policy are at the company that provided the insurance since there’s no standard in the industry as to what’s covered.

“Every policy is worded differently, ” she said.

“The insurance industry is a very competitive market, so products offered by companies differ to meet different consumer … needs.”

Norwood said the Insurance Bureau of Canada also has staff who can answer questions.

Just as cottage owners have been denied help under their insurance policies, they have received only limited assistance from the province.

Cottage owners can apply for flood recovery assistance up to $6,100, but only for cleaning up debris outside their cottages, not for cleaning anything touched by floodwaters inside their cottages.

About 10,000 homes were in N.B. flood areas, but damage still unclear:minister

FREDERICTON _ New Brunswick’s environment minister has given a new sense of scale to the province’s record-setting floods, saying as many as 10,000 homes and businesses were within flood zones.

Andrew Harvey said Thursday that precise figures have yet to come in on the extent of the damage those structures suffered, as citizens are still filing their claims for disaster relief.

“There have been close to 10,000 for residential or commercial properties that could be affected,” he said during a news conference.

“Some of these numbers are moving as we get new information as to how many actual applications we have for disaster financial assistance.”

The minister said the figure was based on Service New Brunswick’s property identification numbers located within the flooded areas.

Provincial officials also said that as of Thursday morning, there were 2,200 people who had registered for the disaster relief program, which covers some of the uninsurable damages in an effort to get homeowners back on their feet.

Meanwhile, the province has estimated there are also about 2,000 recreational properties that have suffered damage.

The rivers swollen by heavy rains and snow melt  swamped homes throughout the region and caused some cottages to collapse, with some even floating off their foundations.

Harvey also told reporters the province will have to consider changing the rules governing what can be built in the flood plains of the Saint John River and other waterways.

The province had announced that it will require property owners to start considering flood mitigation measures before they’re given a permit to rebuild or renovate in areas within 30 metres of the water.

However, Harvey conceded that this is merely a starting point, as wider changes to municipal bylaws and zoning rules have to be considered in the wake of the second major flood in a decade in his province.

“As time goes on those are decisions that are going to have to be made about zoning and about where people are building,” he said.

“These are some tough decisions that will have to be made … and we as a government at some point in the future will have to look at the issue about zoning.”

Craig Stewart, vice president of federal affairs for Insurance Bureau of Canada, said in an interview that there is no time to lose in getting fresh rules in place  and suggests modeling them on zoning created in High River, Alta., which suffered devastating river flooding in 2013.

“This should have been done yesterday,” he said.

“Given lessons learned from flood events over the past few years, absolute priority should be given to changing zoning laws so that we stop putting people in harm’s way.”

After the 2013 floods, High River brought in bylaws that turned the highest risk areas into parkland and prohibited rebuilding in those areas.

Harvey said he’s hoping the most recent events are heightening awareness that flooding isn’t going to be a once-in-a-lifetime event.

“I mean hopefully the message to the people of New Brunswick today is, these are not one in every 100 years. These are 2008 and in 2018, who knows when the next flood could be? Nobody knows,” he said.

Harvey said one bright spot was the announcement on Thursday that the government of Nova Scotia would be making a $100,000 donation to the Canadian Red Cross to help residents.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil announced the funding, saying the province wants to “support our neighbours in their time of need.”

McNeil said about six provincial staff have also been sent to assist in the flood’s aftermath, to help process claims and inspect highway infrastructure.

McNeil said the help isn’t unusual.

Significant flooding hits British Columbia: IBC issues tips to help consumers

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is encouraging residents affected by flooding in British Columbia to call their insurance representatives immediately if they have damage to report.

Flooding has already had a significant impact on many communities across the province, and particularly in the southern Interior. With Environment Canada predicting warm weather and heavy rainfall over the weekend, expanded flood warnings are expected.

“We have seen the devastating effects that flooding can have on communities,” said Aaron Sutherland, Vice-President, Pacific, IBC. “Higher than normal temperatures, rapid snowmelt and heavy rain are adding to the problem. IBC is reiterating the need for everyone to be on alert and to stay safe. We want to help make sure British Columbia residents are prepared and ready to deal with the potential damages.”

While most standard home insurance policies do not cover damage due to overland flooding, many Canadian insurers now offer residential overland flood insurance as an optional add-on to help policyholders reduce the financial risk associated with a flood. It is important for consumers to understand their insurance policies and know what is covered. If damage occurs, consumers should contact their insurance representatives. IBC is also here to help policyholders if they have insurance-related questions.

“IBC’s Consumer Information Centre is available to answer any insurance-related questions that affected individuals might have. Contact us at 1-844-2ask-IBC. We’re here to help,” added Sutherland.

If you have a claim, this is how to start the claims process:

  • When safe to do so, assess and document damage.
  • Call your insurance representative and/or company to report damage or losses.
  • Be as detailed as possible when providing information.
  • Water damage to vehicles is usually covered under comprehensive or all-perils auto insurance policies. Contact your insurance representative for details.
  • If you need help getting in touch with your insurer, contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC (1-844-227-5422).

Help protect your property from water damage:

  • Store valuable items on upper floors of your home, not in the basement.
  • Have large appliances, furnaces, hot water heaters and electrical panels raised up on wood or cement blocks. If this isn’t possible, consider anchoring these items and protecting them with a floodwall or shield.
  • If flooding is imminent, shut off electricity to areas of the home that may be affected. Use sand bags or install flood shields or built-up barriers for basement windows and doors.
  • Create an emergency preparedness plan with your family.
  • Assemble an emergency supply kit.
  • Prepare a detailed home inventory.
  • Pay attention to local authorities and monitor weather developments regularly.
  • Avoid roads that are covered by water.

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.

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

Displaced by flood, couple hopeful new insurance will cover extensive damage

The Evanses first sought flood insurance in 2008

Rachel Cave · CBC News

A retired couple in Grand Bay-Westfield is hoping a new home insurance product they purchased ahead of this year’s flood will make their recovery easier.

Jim and Betty Evans started asking about flood insurance after the St. John River crept up to their doorsill in 2008.

It wasn’t available then.

The Evanses picked through the flood damage Monday to see what can be salvaged. (Brian Chisholm/CBC)

But a few years ago, some companies started offering overland water coverage, available to homeowners who qualified and at an additional price.

“Because we’d been through this before, we thought we’d better have it,” said Betty, 78.

The Evanses have been racking up expenses since floodwater closed Riverside Park, the street where they’ve lived for 25 years.

Jim and Betty Evans, who have lived in their Grand Bay-Westfield riverside home for 25 years, say this year’s flood was the highest they’ve seen by far. (Brian Chisholm/CBC)

On Monday, they had no power, no running water and were staying at a hotel.

They’re hoping their bills will be reimbursed, but they say they’re not entirely sure what their policy covers.

“We’re a little foggy on how extensive it is,” said Jim.

No industry standard

The Insurance Bureau of Canada said only 10 to 20 per cent of insurance companies provide any form of flooding insurance.

They can set their own prices and their own terms, said Marlene Landry, IBC’s Atlantic manager of consumer and industry relations.

“What each company will sell, how they’ll sell it and what the product contains is all different,” said Landry.

“There is no industry standard.”

The Evans’s water pump will be need to be replaced. It’s among many fixtures and appliance lost to the flood.(Brian Chisholm/CBC)

Landry said insurance companies keep years of information on claims and they know their risk zones.

That’s why the location of your house will affect what you pay and whether you can purchase flooding protection at all.

“Yes, there’s going to be cases, many cases possibly, where you couldn’t purchase overland flooding because of where you live,” she said.

Betty Evans clears water-damaged items from her home in Grand Bay-Westfield. (Brian Chisholm/CBC)

IBC said insurance companies have not yet reported on how many New Brunswickers have opted into the coverage since it was introduced in 2015.

As for how much claims will cost from the flood of 2018, Landry said that information may not be available for some time.

“As far as when the information will be available to us as to how much this cost as an industry, I’m going to hazard to say maybe a year or more.”

 

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