Extreme weather and the insurance industry

In the last 30 years, Canadian insurers have doubled their client claim payments every five years because of damage caused by natural disasters. The costs of rebuilding have increased because of more frequent extreme weather events, inadequate infrastructure and rising property values. However, addressing this extreme weather trend has also brought a better understanding of how changing weather patterns impact the risks we face, along with innovative solutions to help everyone deal with them.

Advocates for change

As leaders in risk analysis, insurers are uniquely positioned to advocate for better ways to predict and prevent losses from extreme weather events. We believe in taking a proactive approach to helping reduce your risk.

At The Co-operators, we lend our expertise directly to civic planners and work collaboratively with non-governmental organizations to protect Canadians by:

  • discouraging building on flood plains or close to fault lines
  • encouraging stronger building standards
  • highlighting the need for infrastructure upgrades
  • reducing future greenhouse gas emissions

Kathy Bardswick, our President and Chief Executive Officer, is the Chair of the Board of The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR). A centre for multi-disciplinary disaster prevention research and communications, the ICLR’s strategic plan for the next five years includes focussing on four major hazards: water damage, severe wind, urban earthquakes and wildfires near built-up areas. Visit their website for homeowner safety tips and practical information on reducing damage to your property.

The Co-operators is always looking for new ways to keep you safe and take the worry out of dealing with claims. For more information on staying safe and finding the right coverage for your needs, visit our website.

Flood protection
Canada is the only G8 country where homeowners cannot buy insurance against overland flooding. The Co-operators asked researchers at the University of Waterloo to undertake a study that examines the opinions of leaders at the largest insurance companies in Canada, to better understand the issues and challenges related to this matter. We hope the information in this research project, Assessing the Viability of Overland Flood Insurance: The Canadian Residential Property Market, will help inform a positive discussion among the many stakeholders with an interest in this issue.

Phase II of the research engaged a broader group of stakeholders representing all levels of government, non-governmental organizations and a variety of industries, who identified the following three priority areas where action could most effectively reduce the risk of flood damage:

  1. Flood Plain Mapping – Develop new flood plain maps with projections that anticipate changes in the intensity and duration of future precipitation
  2. Preparedness of Cities – Assess the preparedness of major cities for extreme weather and flooding
  3. Built Infrastructure – Factor extreme weather and flood potential into new infrastructure designs and retrofits

The findings are detailed in Partners for Action: Priorities for Advancing Flood Resiliency in Canada. We look forward to playing a constructive role in improving flood risk management for Canadian homeowners.

We determined that in Phase III, our emphasis would be on the Preparedness of Cities – the one area not being materially pursued by any level of government or organization. By assessing how well prepared major Canadian cities for flooding, this report Preparedness of Fifteen Canadian Cities to Limit Flood Damage, identifies effective adaptation initiatives that could significantly enhance flood resiliency, while providing a benchmark for these municipalities to use as they take steps to better protect their communities in the years ahead.