New study reveals majority of Canadians not prepared for effects of severe weather

May 31, 2013, 08:30 ET from INSURANCE BUREAU OF CANADA

VANCOUVER, May 31, 2013 /CNW/ - A new national poll conducted by Pollara provides interesting insights into the attitudes of Canadians when it comes to preparing for severe weather. It also reveals that many Canadians are not aware of what is covered by their home insurance policies.

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) released the results of the poll today in Vancouver at the opening of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Annual Conference. IBC is a major sponsor of FCM and works to increase awareness of dealing with severe weather realities.

This poll was commissioned by IBC to find out if Canadians are taking appropriate steps to protect their families and their property against the increase in severe weather. What the poll reveals is surprising. For example, the majority of Canadians are not actively preparing for the possibility of bad weather despite an increase in its frequency and severity. Survey respondents, however, were somewhat more positive about their own personal preparations than they were of Canadians in general.

Only 8% of respondents believe Canadians in general are very actively preparing for severe weather. Similar numbers say this about the people in their province (9%) and in their communities (12%). Nonetheless, 22% say that members of their own households have been preparing very actively.

"The insurance industry is on the front lines when disaster strikes so we would like to see these numbers improve," said Don Forgeron, IBC President & CEO.

"We are very aware of the costly and devastating impact of severe weather," he added, saying that preparation and adaptation are key to reducing losses.  "Insured losses as a result of severe weather have been above or near $1 billion in each of the past four years, but there is no way to measure these huge losses in human terms. Homes flooded, cars smashed, trees uprooted, roads washed out and businesses interrupted all take a toll on the lives of those affected," Forgeron said.

Some of the other findings of the Pollara research include:

  • One half of respondents believe that some damage to their homes due to severe weather is likely to happen in the next 10 to 15 years.
  • Almost three quarters are confident that their municipal sewer systems will be able to handle the amount of water produced by storms in the next decade.
  • Overall, Canadians do not have good awareness of which weather damage is covered and which isn't covered by home insurance policies. Many answer specific questions incorrectly and significant numbers can offer no opinion at all. For example:
    • A small majority (53%) know that home insurance covers hail damage to roofs.
    • Only 46% know that home insurance generally covers damage caused by a tree destroying their roof as a result of a tornado.
    • Less than one half (46%) know that damage from landslides and snowslides is not covered.
    • Less than one half (45%) know that damage from tornadoes (aside from overland flooding) is typically covered by home insurance.
    • Only 39% know that home insurance does not cover windstorm damage to trees.
    • Only 36% know that water damage due to overland flooding is not covered by home insurance.
    • Only 10% know that sewer back-up damage may or may not be covered, depending on the policy. Fully 57% believe that this damage is covered by all home insurance policies.
    • Only 9% know that coverage for roof collapses due to snow and ice accumulation depends on the policy. Forty-nine percent believe this damage is typically covered.
    • Only 7% know that some "acts of God" (natural events that are not preventable) are covered by home insurance while some are not. Forty-four percent believe these events are covered and 35% believe they are not.
    • Virtually no one realizes "acts of God" is not a term contained in their policies.

Consumers should take a close look at their home insurance policies and contact their insurance representative if they have any questions about what their coverage includes. They can also visit to learn more about helping to prevent damage from severe weather events.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada
Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national industry association representing Canada's private home, car and business insurers. Its member companies represent 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. The P&C insurance industry employs over 118,600 Canadians, pays more than $7 billion in taxes to the federal, provincial and municipal governments, and has a total premium base of $46 billion.

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If you require more information, IBC spokespeople are available to discuss the details in this media release.