White House seeks $29B for disaster aid, flood insurance

By Andrew Taylor

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON _ The Trump administration on Wednesday asked Congress for $29 billion in disaster aid to cover ongoing hurricane relief and recovery efforts and to pay federal flood insurance claims.

The request comes as the government is spending almost $200 million a day for emergency hurricane response and faces a surge in flood claims for federally insured homes and businesses slammed by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told lawmakers in officially submitting the request that the federal flood insurance program “is not designed to handle catastrophic losses like those caused by Harvey, Irma, and Maria. The NFIP is simply not fiscally sustainable in its current form.”

Mulvaney proposed a package of changes to the flood insurance program that, among others, would protect low-income policyholders from big rate hikes, allow the government to drop from the program properties that have been repeatedly flooded, and phasing out policies on new homes in flood zones.

In the meantime, Wednesday’s request proposal would provide $16 billion to pay those flood claims, along with $13 billion for Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief efforts. Federal firefighting accounts would receive $577 million as well to replenish them after a disastrous season of Western wildfires.

The Senate’s top Democrat quickly backed the aid request but signalled opposition to the administration’s proposed restrictions on flood insurance.

‘This funding request is a good start, but those affected by Maria, Harvey, Irma and wildfires still have a long and difficult road ahead,” said Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.  “We should act on this supplemental quickly, but it should be just the beginning of Congress’ efforts to aid in rebuilding.”

Congress last month approved a $15.3 billion aid package that combined community development block grant rebuilding funds with emergency money for cleanup, repair and housing.

The federal flood insurance program is on track to run out of money to pay claims during the week of Oct. 23. Mulvaney said more than 20,000 federal workers have been deployed by various agencies to help in the hurricane recovery effort. The “burn rate” of almost $200 million a day is requiring an infusion of cash into FEMA coffers.

The request would bring the price tag for this year’s costly hurricane season to about $44 billion and that’s before rebuilding efforts get under way in earnest. A final estimate is a ways away since damage assessments of Puerto Rico may take some time, but Mulvaney said the administration will submit assessments in time for a budget hoped-for budget agreement later this year.

The year-end package would rebuild infrastructure, help people without insurance restore their homes, and, perhaps, help Puerto Rico reconstitute its shattered electrical grid.

‘The hundreds of thousands of people affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have suffered enough. Congress must provide whatever is necessary to get these families back on their feet and to rebuild their communities,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J. “This will be a long process, and this next round of funds certainly won’t be all that is needed.”

Congress is in the midst of an effort to reauthorize the flood insurance program, which critics say makes taxpayers subsidize properties that have repeatedly flooded. A bipartisan effort to reform the program was enacted in 2012. It was significantly watered down just two years later after complaints of huge premium increases and resulting disruptions in coastal real estate markets. But there’s sure to be bipartisan opposition to Mulvaney’s extensive roster of changes to the program, which has strong backing from Republicans in coastal states.

Trump raised eyebrows in a Tuesday interview with Fox News when he said the Puerto Rican government’s debt would have to be “wiped out.”

“They owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street and we’re going to have to wipe that out,” Trump said.

But on Wednesday, Mulvaney told reporters that “we are not going to be offering a bailout for Puerto Rico or for its current bondholders.”

Trump surveyed hurricane damage in Puerto Rico on Tuesday. He praised his administration’s response, even as lawmakers returning from the island say the president is painting far too rosy a picture.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., the situation there presents more difficult challenges than disasters in the continental U.S. For instance, without power or internet service, victims of Maria can’t go online to register for aid. Housing vouchers are largely useless since the entire Island is devastated. He said many thousands of Puerto Ricans will need to be evacuated to the U.S. mainland.

IBC congratulates federal government, Ontario and the City of Toronto, for commitment to flood mitigation

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) congratulates the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, and the City of Toronto for their commitment to flood mitigation as part of an over $1.1 billion funding announcement for Waterfront Toronto.

“Recent flood events in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia have demonstrated the effect that these disasters can have on communities,” said Craig Stewart, Vice-President, Federal Affairs, IBC. “As a society, we cannot continue to put Canadians into harm’s way.  The Toronto Port Lands development will transform an industrial site into an attractive residential community.  Recognizing that this is a floodplain, the federal government, the Government of Ontario and the City of Toronto are investing the needed funds to ensure this new community is inoculated against flood risk.”

The governments of Canada, Ontario, and Toronto announced a commitment of $1.185 billion for Waterfront Toronto. A portion of this will be devoted to protecting the area around the Toronto Port Lands from flooding including diverting the Don River to a naturalized river mouth. As more development in the area is anticipated, investments in flood mitigation will help make this community safer for residents and stronger for economic growth.

“The era of reckless floodplain development must now end”, added Stewart. “IBC is working with the federal and provincial governments, and other organizations focused on flood-related issues, to advocate for a national strategy to address flood risk. Insurance itself is not sufficient; federal and provincial governments can coordinate on a ‘whole of society’ approach to reduce risk for consumers.”

Additional resources:

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 $49 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.

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

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.

New Online Tool to Help Canadian Farmers Manage Risk

Flooding, pests, disease and other extreme weather events are constant risks to the businesses and livelihoods of farmers. The Government of Canada is committed to working with industry partners to explore and develop new risk management tools that meets the needs of Canadian farmers when faced with serious challenges beyond their control.

Member of Parliament, Francis Drouin, today announced a $786,921 investment for Farm Management Canada to develop a new online agricultural risk management tool called “AgriShield”. This online tool will help farmers have real-time assessments of the potential negative impact of risks to their businesses and provide mitigation solutions. For instance, if an overland flood situation is imminent, the tool can help farmers to assess the degree of risk they face and potential mitigation measures that they can adopt, such as tile draining or insurance coverage.

This investment is being made through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s AgriRisk Initiatives (ARI) which supports the research and development, as well as the implementation and administration of new risk management tools for use in the agriculture sector.

Quotes

“Canadian farmers face risk every day and it is essential they have the necessary tools to better understand and manage risk. The recent flooding in Eastern Ontario and Quebec, for example, shows the need to help farmers more effectively manage risk, so that they can be stronger, more innovative and more competitive.”
– Francis Drouin, Member of Parliament for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell

“Less than 1/3 of Canada’s farmers have a risk management plan. Our ultimate goal is to increase the awareness and adoption of risk management practices and planning as part of the farm management process and cultivate a more comprehensive understanding and approach to assessing and managing risk within the agricultural sector.”
– Heather Watson, Executive Director Farm Management Canada

Quick facts

  • Farm Management Canada (FMC) is a national organization dedicated exclusively to providing leading edge resources to enable Canadian producers to make sound management decisions.
  • The online tool covers all areas of potential risk faced by agricultural businesses, gathering data that will enable farmers, commodity groups and the agriculture sector to establish benchmarks for improved risk management performance.
  • Project partners include the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and the consulting firm Meyers Norris Penny.
  • AgriRisk Initiatives is a Growing Forward 2, Business Risk Management program.

Additional links

Follow us on Twitter: @AAFC_Canada
Like us on Facebook: CanadianAgriculture

 

SOURCE Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

For further information: Guy Gallant, Director of Communications, Office of the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, 613-773-1059; Media Relations, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, 613-773-7972, 1-866-345-7972; Heather Watson, Executive Director, Farm Management Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Telephone: 1-888-232-3262 Fax: 1-800-270-8301, Email: heather.watson@fmc-gac.com, www.FMC-GAC.com

RELATED LINKS
www.agr.gc.ca
https://www.canada.ca

Flooding Risks – Where The Canadian Insurance Market Is At

Article by Nicole Truong

Extreme weather events, such as the heavy rainfall and flooding we’ve witnessed this spring in Quebec and in British Columbia, inevitably lead to discussions about the impact of climate change and the cost of inaction.

The recent flooding in various riverside regions of Canada that has left citizens feeling helpless as they try to salvage their home and belongings from murky waters of overflowing rivers across the country, is a reminder that governments and the insurance industry could do more to prepare for the future.

In Canada, flooding is among the most onerous risks for the federal government. Since the 1970s, it has paid nearly $6.5 billions to flood victims, i.e. about 78% of the expenses incurred under the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA). What’s more, in 2010-2014, it spent $3.7 billions in aid to flood victims.

As natural catastrophes recur more frequently, we expect these numbers to rise steadily in years to come.

New endorsement

While these are staggering figures, insurers in Canada have only just recently begun offering homeowners insurance protection against the risk of flood, already available in other G8 countries. In fact, the Insurance Bureau of Canada announced last winter that it had drafted a new endorsement against overland flooding which will be in force this coming June 1st, 2017, and therefore available to Quebec homeowners through participating insurers.

This is not to say that insurers in Canada have ignored the risk of flood. It is covered under automobile insurance and commercial property insurance policies. However, it begs a question as to why it took so long for insurers to offer a product for the Canadian homeowners’ insurance market.

Part of the reason is that the risk itself defies the economic parameters of insurance; i.e. it is not entirely unforeseeable and uncertain. In fact, floods tend to happen periodically, and the resulting damages are serious and costly. Foreseeability of the occurrence of floods leads to adverse selection of the risk and creates an imbalance on the market where a greater proportion of persons who are highly exposed to the risk buy the insurance protection as opposed to those who are less exposed. As a result, the insurance principle of risk sharing among insureds no longer applies. Eventually, offering the insurance protection is no longer financially sound and is unattractive because it is too expensive.

Role of the federal, provincial and municipal governements

But because of the scarceness of flood insurance, the Canadian federal government ends up paying the bill through the DFAA, which is funded indirectly by taxpayers. The provinces also provide financial assistance which only covers the affected populations’ basic needs. In the long run, as we witness floods more frequently, the situation will no longer be socially and economically viable. This is why it is high time for governments and the insurance industry to react and stem the tide before the situation deteriorates further.

The Canadian federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments each have a role to play in assisting the insurance industry to control the risk of floods. The federal government is currently conducting floodplain mapping  to identify the boundaries of a potential flood event and to support informed decisions and investments to reduce the impacts of flooding in communities across Canada.

To be successful, it requires the cooperation of the provincial and municipal governments as they have the expert knowledge of the specificities of the regional and local areas. While municipal governments are responsible for tracking flood risk and implementing risk mitigation measures, the provinces supervise and work with them to set priorities. Provincial governments also regulate the insurance industry in this particular aspect. It is why all government levels must address the issue together.

Expectations for the future

Finally, the emerging market of home insurance covering the risk of flood in Canada will eventually ensure adequate and efficient reconstruction of infrastructures after major flooding. It will also make sharing information between various government levels and the insurance industry easier, which is in the interests of all parties involved, especially the victims. If the uptake of this new insurance product turns out to be positive, we can realistically expect quicker re-building and a degree of relief for the federal and provincial governments as there will be less reliance on the DFAA and public funds.

Nonetheless, we have a long way to go. Past governments have underestimated the needs to invest in infrastructures and in expert intelligence in order to assess properly the risk of flood. By putting their best foot forward in adopting a coherent and integral approach in tackling climate change and natural catastrophes, governments in Canada and the insurance industry will have to learn to respond efficiently to environmental and natural threats upstream as well as downstream.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Source: Mondaq

RSA Canada donates $50,000 to support residents in Quebec and across Canada impacted by floods

RSA Canada is donating $50,000 to the Canadian Red Cross to assist with relief efforts following the spring floods in Quebec and across Canada.

The donation will be split in half with $25,000 going specifically to the Canadian Red Cross relief efforts in Quebec and the other $25,000 to support efforts across Canada in the areas that the Canadian Red Cross have determined are most in need of support.

In addition, RSA is matching the individual donations of employees across the country, looking to help in the wake of these devastating floods through the company’s Matching Donation program.

“We are touched by the images we are seeing and our hearts go out to those affected by these terrible incidents,” says RSA President and CEO Martin Thompson. “We have customers, brokers and friends in Quebec and other parts of the country who have been impacted by the spring floods. The rain may have stopped for now, but we know that the clean-up will be a long process. Our focus is on providing some immediate relief through this donation.”

RSA customers can call 1 800 319 9993 with any questions. Customers in Quebec can call 1-800-873-2424. Johnson Insurance customers can call 1-800-804-0087 with any questions. More information about making a claim is available here: http://www.rsagroup.ca/make-claim. Follow us on Twitter (@RSACanada) for ongoing updates.

Related Links:

To donate to the Spring Floods appeal:

About RSA
With a 300 year heritage, RSA is a multinational quoted insurance group. Focusing on general insurance, RSA’s core markets are the UK & Ireland, Scandinavia and Canada, with the capability to write insurance business across the globe. RSA’s core businesses have approximately 13,500 employees with net written premiums of £6.3bn in 2016.

About RSA Canada
The RSA Canada group of companies includes Roins Financial Services Limited, Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada, Quebec Assurance Company, Johnson Inc., Unifund Assurance Company, Western Assurance Company, Ascentus Insurance Ltd., Canadian Northern Shield Insurance Company and RSA Travel Insurance Inc. (collectively, “RSA Canada”) and is part of a group of companies headed by RSA Insurance Group Plc. RSA Canada employs more than 3,000 people across Canada and is one of the oldest insurance companies in the country with roots dating back to 1833.

©2017 Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada. All rights reserved. RSA, RSA & Design and related words and logos are trademarks and the property of RSA Insurance Group plc, licensed for use by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada. RSA is a trade name of Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada.

SOURCE RSA Canada

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