by Carlito Pablo | Straight.com

In the aftermath of the catastrophic fires in the province in 2003, insurance companies paid $240 million for losses.

“We’ve been lucky in that they hadn’t been too close to populated areas,” Aaron Sutherland, manager of government relations with the Insurance Bureau of Canada, told the Straightin a phone interview on Tuesday (July 7).

On the same day, the B.C. Wildfire Service reported that there are 184 active fires in the province. Of these, 18 are fires of note, meaning they pose a potential threat to public safety.

According to the service, there are eight evacuation alerts and orders currently in effect.

As of July 7, about 40 homes were subject to evacuation orders, while around 920 homes are on evacuation alert.

Since the season started April 1, the province has responded to 887 wildfires.

As IBC’s Sutherland noted: “This has been a very significant year for forest fires.”

In June 2012, the organization representing home, car, and business insurers released a study projecting that major forest fires in B.C. may increase by 50 percent in the next 40 years. This is due to changing weather patterns, which include drier summers and winters.

“As we continue to see this, you know, warm weather becoming more and more the norm, and…drier winters with less snow pack, that’s going to have a significant impact on all of us in this province,” Sutherland said.

Insurance policies cover damage caused by fire. According to Sutherland, most provide for additional expenses for hotel stays and food in cases of mandatory evacuations ordered by the government.

“If you’ve been evacuated from your home, it’s a very stressful time for you,” he said, stressing the importance of having one’s home insured. “It can really present a challenge.”

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