Climate change is an increasingly prevalent issue in today’s world. In recent years there’s been a spike in extreme weather events in which climate change is considered to have been a major factor. Albertans have tasted firsthand the devastation climate change can bring.
The 2013 floods in Southern Alberta affected over 100,000 homes and caused damages exceeding $5 billion. It was the costliest disaster in Canadian history (note the emphasis on was). The 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire, which forced upwards of 88,000 people from their homes, was an even bigger financial nightmare, costing a total of $9.9 billion, with insured damage estimated to have reached $3.6 billion.
It’s no surprise that all this has influenced insurance policies premiums in Alberta. Predictably, the price of insurance in Alberta has increased as a result not only of these recent calamities, but also in anticipation of future ones.
Why climate change puts homeowners at risk
It’s important for Canadians to recognize that the extreme weather events of recent years are, according to climate change experts, not an exception, but are part of a trend that is forecasted to continue.
The rising temperatures and the droughts associated with climate change increase the chances of potentially destructive fires breaking out. We need to reflect not only on the Fort McMurray wildfire but also the 2017 B.C. wildfires. The BC wildfires are notable for having left the largest burnt area in a fire season in recorded history, for having caused the largest number of total evacuations in a fire season and for being the largest single fire in the province’s history.
The severe storms and increased rainfall climate change brings also makes flooding a real possibility that homeowners must be prepared to face. There’s no shortage of examples. Leaving aside the floods in Alberta, there were the floods in Toronto in July of 2013 (Ontario’s most costly natural disaster to date) and in Quebec in 2017 (when 2,426 residences were flooded). Much of this flooding was caused not by an overflowing waterway, but rainfall collecting on paved surfaces and eventually leaking into homes and overwhelming the sewer system. This should indicate to Albertans that their city, town or village is in no way immune from the risk of flooding, regardless of whether or not they’re located close to a waterway.
Why it’s a good time to update your insurance
In the aftermath of the Alberta floods, insurance companies responded by beginning to insure for overland water. Overland water is when water seeps in through the windows, doors and cracks: as opposed to sewer backup, which is when the municipality’s sewage system gets backed up and overflows into basement drains. Both types of water damage occurred and both caused substantial damages during our nation’s recent floods.
Albertan homeowners need to make certain that they have the proper insurance to keep them protected financially from the damages of extreme weather events in this era of climate change. Special attention should be paid to insurance coverage that secures them against basement flooding due to sewer backup and the newer coverage that secures them against overland water.