Extreme weather events

Every year, extreme weather events hit Québec and Canada. Whether it is violent winds and tornadoes, torrential rain, ice, hail or forest fires, these disasters cause significant financial losses and material damage.

In the years to come, climate change will have an even greater impact:

  • Aging infrastructure may not stand up to higher intensity events.
  • Governments, consumers and insurers will be impacted by the higher costs related to natural disasters.

While it is possible to insure against these different risks, the key is to better manage them and take precautions. IBC believes this must be done by adapting and using risk attenuation measures.

The frequency of natural disasters has continued to increase over the past 30 years, a world-wide trend, which Québec and Canada have not escaped.

In the past 10 years, yearly insured losses caused by natural disasters in Canada have totalled $1 billion or more.

Extreme weather events and insurance

Whether you are an owner, co-owner or tenant, your insurance coverage can protect you by acting as a safety net even when wild weather hits hard.

Most events, sometimes referred to as “acts of God”, are insurable, either directly under the policy, or by adding additional coverage.

The basic policy covers violent winds, tornados, hail or forest fires. Damage caused by water, such as seepage, sewer back-up or overflow of a body of water, can be covered by adding an endorsement.

To find out more, take the quiz “Covered or not?”.

Preventing damage caused by Mother Nature

The limit the damage, it is important to adopt prevention measures that can make all the difference:

What should you do if you are a weather victim?

Check our What to do in case of a loss page to find out what to do. You may also be entitled to reimbursement of living expenses if you have to evacuate your home. Keep all invoices for expenses you incur for lodging and food.

Our Insurance Information Centre agents are also available to assist.

Dealing with climate change and weather events

The cost of extreme weather events in Québec and the rest of Canada is rising and can have a major impact on Quebecers, including: 

  • Threatening the assets and financial security of citizens and businesses
  • Damaging vulnerable infrastructure
  • Becoming a tax and financial burden for governments and municipalities (restoration costs)

Reducing the risks?

Although these weather phenomena are unpredictable, there are measures that can be taken to reduce their impact:

  • Make cities and citizens aware of the risks and stress the importance of taking measures to enhance their safety.
  • Invest in targeted adaptation measures, including natural infrastructures and integrated water management.
  • Strengthen construction standards to resist extreme winds, snow weight and brief periods of torrential rain.
  • Create incentives to encourage resilience among individuals and communities.

Shared roles and responsibilities

Governments and the P&C insurance industry can play a major role in prevention and restoration:

Governments can:

  • Provide financial assistance to high-risk regions and low-income individuals.
  • Establish a legislative framework to allow insurers to adapt to a constantly shifting market and the changing needs of consumers and businesses.

With their expertise, insurers and reinsurers can help to:

  • Assess and manage risk, from factoring in the scientific knowledge behind each risk to quantifying the underlying physical and financial impact.
  • Transfer the risks related to natural disasters from taxpayers to global financial markets economically and effectively.

Research world-wide shows that where insurance underwriting is higher, natural disasters have a lesser impact. While insurers compensate businesses and individuals, governments are able to focus on their main activity: urgent interventions, financial support to low-income households and restoration of public infrastructure.

IBC’s approach to climate change

P&C insurers are very concerned by climate change and extreme weather phenomena. For several years now, IBC has done research and is working on solutions to help Canadians and Quebecers protect themselves from the devastating effects of these events.

Solutions for high-risk zones 

IBC has been working with governments both in Québec and Canada to promote: 

  • Concerted action between key stakeholders: scientists, governments, emergency services, banks, insurers, agencies and citizens
  • A public-private partnership to cover zones at the highest risk of flooding
  • Incentives to relocate citizens away from zones with greater exposure to disasters

Outreach

Some of the activities undertaken by IBC on extreme weather events include:

  • Awareness campaigns about extreme weather events on various platforms
  • Media relations and media releases during crises
  • Support and coordination among insurers, the authorities and policyholders regarding claims settlement for losses during disasters
  • Creating content for members and policyholders
  • Organising conferences and workshops
  • Publishing studies