Hot, dry weather worsened by climate change made much of Canada into a tinderbox that ignited this summer, leading to the country’s worst wildfire season on record.
These fires pose growing threats to both lives and property — but a new survey from BNN Bloomberg and RATESDOTCA found that many Canadians are not familiar with the right insurance coverage to ensure their homes are protected from such climate risks.
The survey, conducted by Leger in early September, asked 1,538 Canadians if they had contacted their insurance provider in light of the climate disasters that impacted the country this year. It found that only 14 per cent of Canadians contacted their insurer to review their coverage.
Meanwhile, 33 per cent said that they did not contact their insurer and are unsure whether they have adequate coverage to protect them from climate risks.
Not fully understanding your home insurance coverage can have dire consequences in the event of a claim. For instance, most home insurance policies will cover damage from forest fires, which is one consolation for those who had their homes damaged or destroyed by wildfires in places such as Kelowna, B.C., and Halifax this summer.
But there are other coverages that are not included in a basic home insurance policy. As climate threats intensify, that puts homeowners who are not aware at risk. For instance, a basic home insurance policy in Canada will not cover overland floods — that is, water that seeps into your home as a result of a sudden rainstorm or an overflowing river. This includes water damage from hurricanes, which are predicted to increasingly hit Atlantic Canada in the coming years.
Concern about climate change is more pronounced among young people. About one in three surveyed people between the ages of 18 to 34 said they had contacted their insurer to confirm they were properly covered against climate risks, while only 10 per cent of those aged 55 and older did the same.
When it came to taking action, only seven per cent said they had taken out additional endorsements, such as overland flood coverage, to protect against climate risks. But among young people (those aged 18-24), this number rose to 24 per cent.
An earlier BNN Bloomberg and RATESDOTCA survey conducted in May found that younger people were also more likely to consider climate change risks when choosing the location of their home. The survey found that 64 per cent of those aged 18 to 24 factored in climate, compared to only 27 per cent of those aged 55 and older.
Climate change should be top of mind when factoring in location, because more insurers in Canada are raising premiums for areas at higher risk of forest fires or floods. In some cases, they’re declining to insure properties altogether. Being aware of this is important for all potential homeowners when buying a property.
BNN Bloomberg has teamed up with RATESDOTCA to take the pulse of Canadians every month on key pocketbook issues. This is the latest instalment in monthly special coverage.