In Québec, there are floods of varying intensity. Major flooding does occur and has a significant impact on the municipalities affected and their residents. It represents a heavy economic burden for all levels of government, and threatens the financial situation of citizens and businesses.

For several years now, P&C insurers have promoted responsible land use management to reduce the properties and infrastructure vulnerable to flooding, and thus create greater community resilience.

9 questions about flood insurance

Flooding hits several Quebec regions and raises a number of questions about available insurance coverage for flood victims. You will find some answer in our article on Infoinsurance.

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Are you at risk of flooding?

In insurance, flood is defined by the overflowing of a natural body of water that reaches your home.

It may be caused by rising water, torrential rain, snow melt, ice jams, etc.

Contact your municipality and your RCM to find out the risk of flooding in your residential area as well as the regulations in effect. Citizens can also access the Ministry of Public Safety’s app Géo-Inondations.

Contact your insurer to find out if you can benefit from:

  • Additional coverage (endorsement) against the overflow of a body of water, under certain conditions.
  • An evaluation of the risk based on your situation.

What to do if there is a flood?

In the event of a claim, contact your insurer agent or broker quickly to inform them of the situation and seek advice. Also take the necessary measures to protect your belongings and avoid any aggravation of the damage or the risk of contamination.

To find out more, check out the following tools:

Citizens who are victims of flood can also request financial assistance through a program available from the Ministry of Public Safety.

Some statistics

In Canada :

  • 19% of the population (1.7 million properties*) lives in a flood-prone area
  • Insured losses related to flooding totalled $405 million between 1983 and 2008, and cost $1.8 billion between 2009 and 2017
  • In 40 years, costs related to flooding have quadrupled and account for 75% of all DFAA expenses

In Québec :

  • 20 % of the population (340,000 properties*) are exposed to flooding

Torrential rains and flooding in the springs of 2017 and 2019:

  • 314 municipalities affected (293 municipalities in 2017) in 16 administrative regions (15 regions in 2017)
  • More than 7,000 claims to the Quebec Public Assistance Program (6,000 claims in 2017)
  • Cost the Québec government nearly $390 millions for non-insured losses ($300 millions in 2017)
  • More than 10,200 claims to P&C Insurers (10,000 in 2017)
  • P&C Insurers paid out $186 millions in insured losses ($136 millions in 2017)

*Does not include co-ownership buildings and rental units.

Make Québec more resilient to flooding

Floods often mean non-insured and non-budgeted losses and, consequently, they are represent a heavy financial burden for the government, cities and citizens. Québec, like the other provinces, also depends on the federal government’s Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA) to provide assistance to flood victims and finance restoration.

For several years now, we have noted that floods happen year round, infrastructure is no longer adequate and land use management is vulnerable. The impact of climate change will increase flood risk in the years to come.

Actions for right now

Now more than ever, it is important to develop a strategy to adapt to flood risk which targets sustainable community restoration initiatives:

  • Invest in infrastructure and risk attenuation measures
  • Put in place green and natural measures (see IBC study)
  • Create awareness among the public about flood risk and give citizens the tools to protect themselves
  • Do not build or rebuild in flood zones
  • Update mapping
  • Relocate at-risk residences.

Finding solutions for high-risk properties

While private insurance is beginning to be offered, it cannot cover everything, as there will always be risks that insurers cannot assume alone. This is true for properties located in high-risk zones. Solutions, including specific programs and incentives, need to be put in place to reduce the number of residences in the longer term located in these zones.

Flooding: a core issue for IBC

In Québec, IBC is actively working on creating awareness of flood risk and prevention measures:

  • Creating water damage and flood risk awareness campaigns addressed to consumers
  • Working with various stakeholder to lobby the government for more responsible land use management
  • Working closely with the Ministry of Public Safety to improve the financial assistance process for flood victims
  • Organising events and meetings with key stakeholders

During natural disasters, such as the 2017 and 2019 spring floods in Québec, IBC intervened with the government, municipal authorities and flood victims to ensure coordination with insurers for the restoration efforts and claims settlement.

In March 2023, the federal government announced an investment of $31.7 million over three years to create a low-cost flood insurance program. IBC welcomes this initiative.

To improve the knowledge of this issue, IBC also publishes studies on flood risk and specialized information.