By Jonathan Forani, CTVNews.ca
More Canadians have flood insurance than ever, but homeowners at repeated risk still face the most difficulty obtaining coverage, according to lobbyists.
Insurance for “overland flooding,” from rising water levels rather than sewer backups or roof seepage, has only been offered by insurers across the country since 2015. Now, about a third of Canadians have it, according to Craig Stewart of the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
But homeowners in high-risk flood zones who may require repeated claims have limited options.
“Presently there really is not affordable high-risk insurance available for those that are going to be at repeated risk of flooding,” said Stewart in an interview with CTV’s Your Morning. Stewart, who leads a task force of insurers, realtors and local governments, presented recommendations to ministers earlier this year on how to protect high-risk homeowners.
“For those that are at repeated risk, we are recommending to governments that they take a hard look at strategic retreat, getting those people out of harm’s way,” he said.
Any official final solution based off the task force recommendations is likely a year away, he added. Until then, homeowners facing repeated risk of flooding have few options, as their needs would have to be subsidized by taxpayers or other policy holders, he said.
Some homeowners in that group have taken “drastic” measures to avoid risk, he said, such as putting their homes on stilts. Stewart recommends it.
“Or you just absolutely reduce your risk by either moving or just making sure you’re taking everything out of your low lying area or your basement that’s going to reduce any future claim,” he said.
According to a 2017 report by the Munk School of Global Affairs, flood-related losses have surpassed fire and theft as the primary source of property insurance claims. Despite increasing claims, a lot of Canadians aren’t even aware they live in a floodplain until they get flooded, said Stewart.
“Canadians first and foremost should understand what their risk level is,” he said.