Over the last few years in Canada, extreme weather and flooding have become more frequent, more severe and so has the cost to homeowners. It’s a trend that is expected to continue.
Prior to 2015, Canadian homeowners were unable to buy insurance to protect their home and belongings from overland flooding. There was a clear and immediate need for proper insurance coverage for all Canadians, even those most at risk. This led to ICMIF member The Co-operators launching a new product known as Comprehensive Water in the Alberta region of the country.
Availability of Comprehensive Water insurance cover has now been expanded across Canada and, from early January 2019, homeowners across the whole of Canada can now purchase storm surge insurance from The Co-operators. The product was made available to Quebec and Manitoba from January, extending the geographical coverage for this type of insurance to Canadian homeowners coast to coast.
Comprehensive Water insurance is the only product of its kind in Canada to provide protection from the most common causes of residential flood and water damage including storm surge, overflowing lakes, rivers and creeks, and sewer or septic backup.
Storm surge, which includes rising water levels and waves caused by storms, presents a significant flood risk, especially in coastal regions where extreme weather patterns have intensified with the changing climate.
"Overland flooding has been identified as the most pervasive and costliest cause of damage to Canadian homes, yet most are inadequately protected against this growing risk. As a cooperative, it's our priority to protect the financial security of Canadians. This is why we first introduced overland flood insurance in Canada," said Rob Wesseling, president and CEO of The Co-operators. "Today, we are thrilled that this product is available to all Canadian homeowners, even those at the highest risk, adding another layer of protection and providing peace of mind for those who need it most."
According to a study by Partners for Action Network, 94 per cent of Canadians living in high-risk flood zones are unaware of their risk. To get a personalized flood assessment and find out about available coverage, Canadians can visit water.cooperators.ca.
In 2015, The Co-operators became the first Canadian insurer to offer overland flood insurance in Alberta and expanded this coverage to Ontario in 2016. It is now the only insurer to offer Canadian homeowners protection against damage caused by storm surge. Today, more than a quarter of a million Canadians are covered by the organization's Comprehensive Water product. The model The Co-operators uses to predict flood risk is recognized as one of the most advanced in Canada, and incorporates data on elevation, soil, rainfall, river flow, government-controlled defences like dams and channels, and other factors that help predict areas at risk of flooding.