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.”

 

Waters rising in flood ravaged southern B.C. as residents brace for ’round two’

GRAND FORKS, B.C. _ There is a feeling of “calm apprehension” in the southern British Columbia city of Grand Forks as officials warn of a coming second wave of flood waters, says Brett Swope.

The pastor at the Grand Forks Baptist Church said he noticed the flood waters returned on Tuesday when he drove down a local road covered in 15 centimetres of water. It had been dry on Monday, he said in an interview as he travelled around assessing the flood situation.

The residents of Grand Forks were unsure what water levels to expect in the coming days, Swope said.

“Some forecasts are calling for it to be higher, others are calling for it to be just lower than we had recently, but everybody’s just sort of bracing for the impact and trying to do everything they can to be prepared,” he said.

At least 1,500 homes in the Kootenay Boundary regional district, which includes Grand Forks, remained evacuated Tuesday following flooding over the last several days. Provincial officials say evacuation orders covered another 500 homes around the province, while more than 2,600 homes were on evacuation alert.

Swope said he’s been amazed at the community’s tireless labour.

“When I think of the sense of how our community is feeling, I think that they’re, you know, kind of approaching everything with a calm apprehension.”

He said “hundreds upon hundreds” of volunteers have prepared tens of thousands of sandbags in advance of potential flooding this week and residents are working from sun up to sun down.

Jessica Mace of the Kettle River Watershed Authority said temperatures higher than 30 C and exhausting work is wearing on the thousand plus volunteers in Grand Forks.

“People have been working really long hours,” said Mace, “they’re so thirsty and tired and worn out.”

Heavy rains and spring runoff combined to push floodwaters to levels not seen in 70 years in and around Grand Forks last week.

Gordy Shaw moved to Grand Forks with his wife eight years ago from Richmond because he said he was worried about dykes bursting in the Metro Vancouver city.

“I worked all the sawmills along the Fraser River, and I never anticipated this little Kettle River (in Grand Forks) would ever flow like it did today.”

Shaw said he had about 30 centimetres of water seep into his garage and learned over coffee with his neighbours on Tuesday that he was lucky compared with the damage experienced by others.

“They just talked to their insurance company, and the insurance company just said ‘No, I’m sorry sir, it’s overland flooding and you have no insurance,’ ‘” said Shaw.

Chris Marsh of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary said water levels were rising again along the Granby and Kettle rivers, which meet in Grand Forks.

“The forecast from the River Forecast Centre is for levels that are possibly equivalent to or higher than the peaks we saw last year, which are record peaks,” added Marsh.

Emergency Management BC said the Boundary region and Similkameen Valley have already seen significant flooding, while risks are also high across the Okanagan and Shuswap regions.

Officials from the regional district said the rapid snowmelt is pushing river levels higher and there was a forecast of rain for the region by Wednesday.

An evacuation alert was also issued Tuesday by the township of Langley for part of Glen Valley, as well as Brae and McMillan islands, after the Fraser River was measured at 5.5 metres in Mission, about 70 kilometres east of Vancouver.

It was the first evacuation alert of the 2018 flood season for any community near Metro Vancouver.

By Spencer Harwood in Vancouver

IBC aims to help CDN homeowners better understand the risk of flooding

 Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) today kicked-off a new consumer flood education campaign that will take place this spring and summer in communities in British ColumbiaAlberta and Ontario. IBC “Flood Factor” interactive booths aim to raise awareness of flood risks and educate homeowners on how they can protect their property from flood damage and prepare themselves for emergencies.

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A recent public opinion poll conducted by IBC found that almost 45% of Canadian homeowners with a ground-level home think they have flood insurance as part of their regular home insurance policy, and 26% don’t know if they have it or not. At the same time, only 37% admit feeling confident in their level of knowledge about what is covered and what is not in their home insurance policies.

“The fact is that most Canadians are not financially protected against flooding, and they may not realize it,” says Craig Stewart, Vice-President, Federal Affairs, IBC. “Climate change is not a future threat – it’s happening now. Over the past three decades we have seen an increase in insured damages, and it is up to all of us – the insurance industry, governments and citizens – to do our part in responding to the effects of climate change.”

The insurance industry and governments have a role to play in educating citizens about the risks associated with floods, and the industry will continue to invest in consumer education such as the Flood Factor interactive displays to show Canadians the steps they can take to protect themselves. At the booths, consumers will see interactive maps that provide a view of residential flood risk, as well as learn how to mitigate that risk. People can also visit http://www.floodfactor.ca/ to test out their knowledge of floods for a chance to win instant prizes.

“Adapting to the impacts of climate change takes a whole-of-society approach,” says Stewart. “It is imperative that we raise Canadians’ awareness of the escalating climate-change risks that we all face. Floods in Canada will continue to happen, and only together can we build a resilient country.”

Key findings of IBC’s public opinion research include:

  • Canadian homeowners think they have flood coverage but are not confident in their policy knowledge.
    • Almost 45% believe they have flood insurance coverage
    • 29% say they do not have coverage and 26% don’t know if they have coverage.
  • Canadian homeowners have taken some action to protect their homes from flooding.
    • 56% have cleared leaves from eavestroughs and other areas around the house
    • 44% have ensured proper lot grading so that water drains away from the home
    • 40% have ensured downspouts extend at least 6 feet from the basement wall
    • 35% have checked sidewalks, patios and driveways to ensure they have not settled and caused water to drain toward the house
    • 27% have checked window water wells to ensure there is no accumulated water
    • 23% have created an inventory of the home’s contents, including all valuables
    • 22% have installed backflow valves for drains, toilets and basement sewer connections
    • 22% have informed themselves and household members on how to shut off electricity to areas that might be affected by flooding.
  • Canadian homeowners don’t feel the threat of flooding.
    • 53% say they are not planning to take any action to protect their homes from flooding in the next several months
    • Only 11% have a disaster safety kit in their homes, and 42% of those who do not already have one say they are not willing to assemble one in the near future.
  • Insurers have a role to play in education.
    • The most trusted source for information on how to reduce the risk of flood in the home is a science or flood expert (61% trust this source)
    • Insurance companies are the second-most-trusted source of information (54%).

About the Research
IBC commissioned Navigator Ltd. to conduct a nationwide online study of 1,200 Canadian residents 18 years of age or older between February 5 and February 23, 2018. The margin of error for a strict probability sample for a sample of this size would be ±2.83%, 19 times out of 20. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to, sampling error, coverage error and measurement error.

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 $52 billion.

For media releases and more information, visit IBC’s Media Centre at 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.

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

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

Insurance industry set to release new neighbourhood-level flood maps for Edmonton

ELISE STOLTE | Edmonton Journal

Edmonton residents who need overland flood insurance the most either don’t know they need it or can’t afford what’s offered, an insurance expert warned city council Monday.

It’s a national problem, Bill Adams, western vice-president for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, told council’s utility committee. When the industry polls citizens, “those Canadians who are highest at risk of flood are completely oblivious.”

“They just don’t believe they’re at risk,” said Adams, promising to show updated flood maps to Edmonton residents this spring. “We need to ensure that the flood maps, the risk, is known.”

Councillors are wrestling with how to tackle flood mitigation, how to balance the responsibility of home and business owners to insure their property and the public responsibility to reduce risks for everyone. It’s a difficult question because to rebuild all Edmonton infrastructure to protect against a one-in-100-year river flood or flash flood could cost $3.5 billion and take decades.

Edmonton should be trying to build at least enough flood protection infrastructure — stormwater ponds and larger storm sewers — to ensure private insurance agencies can offer an affordable product, said Coun. Ben Henderson.

A Millbourne home after flooding from a storm in 2012. KATHY BROWER / SUPPLIED

He and many others live in the river valley, where the city approved development, he said. But overland flooding insurance for his neighbourhood, Rossdale, costs thousands of dollars. It’s unaffordable, he said.

Currently, 37 per cent of Albertans have decided to buy the new overland flood protection plans new to the market, said Adams. The provincial government has said it will stop offering emergency coverage to flooded homeowners when these policies are widespread and affordable, but hasn’t defined what that means.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada will be at this year’s Get Ready in the Park event to share flood maps the insurance industry developed. That event is in Hawrelak Park on May 12 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Assessing the risk

Flood risk in Edmonton is varies from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, with some facing risk from river flooding, but others far from the river facing risk from flash floods. The latter depends upon geography, but also the size and position of sewer pipes homeowners can’t see.

Flash floods hit Mill Woods and many south-central communities in 2004 and 2012. A downpour stalled over specific neighbourhoods, flooding 1,200 basements.

Epcor has taken over Edmonton’s flood mitigation work. It is developing a ranked list of priority projects for the most as-risk neighbourhoods, said Susan Ancel, Epcor’s director of stormwater strategies.

Epcor is also hoping to partner with Intact, a University of Waterloo-affiliated centre of expertise that is developing a home audit system for homeowners. The program, currently being run as a trial in several communities, sends experts to help homeowners understand the specific risks they face, get advice and then have their home rated for flood projection. The audit program would give a credit to get a reduction on insurance rates.

Ancel said city staff are also looking at Halifax and Mississauga programs, which give home and business owners credit on their utility rates if they have more permeable landscaping to absorb rainwater.

B.C. offers financial aid to southern Interior residents hit by March flood

VICTORIA _ Residents of British Columbia’s southern Interior hit by flooding or other damage from an early spring downpour can apply for relief from the provincial government.

The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General says financial assistance is available after heavy rains in late March caused overland flooding or landslides.

A news release from the ministry says disaster financial assistance is available to homeowners, tenants, farmers, small businesses and even local governments that could not obtain insurance for certain disaster-related losses.

If allowed, the ministry says assistance claims can cover 80 per cent of eligible damage that exceeds $1,000, to a maximum claim of $300,000.

Applications are available online and will be accepted from claimants across the North Okanagan, Columbia Shuswap, Okanagan-Similkameen and Central Okanagan regional districts.

Torrential downpours swept across the southern Interior starting on March 22 washing out roads, causing localized flooding and bringing down rock and mudslides, prompting several regions, including the City of Armstrong, to declare local states of emergency.

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