Climate change could make insurance more expensive: experts – National |

Residents don’t know what they’ll find when they return home after evacuation due to wildfires or other natural disasters. They don’t even know if their homes will still exist." alt="" style="position:absolute;width:1px;height:1px" referrerpolicy="no-referrer-when-downgrade"/>

Blazes across the country have destroyed hundreds of homes, even entire towns, in recent weeks.  Enterprise, N.W.T is all but gone, and the city of West Kelowna lost nearly 200 houses.

Flooding in Nova Scotia caused more than $170 million in damages last month, according to the Insurance Board of Canada (IBC), which represents most insurers in the country.

Climate change is bringing more severe weather events, and experts warn it’s causing insurance to become more expensive. And Craig Stewart, the IBC vice-president for climate change and federal issues, estimated premiums could rise between five and 50 per cent.

“We’re not driven by any one single event,” Stewart told Global News.

Story continues below advertisement

“But basically, due to these trends that we’ve been seeing over the last decade, we are seeing, unfortunately, insurance premiums increase as the risk goes up.”

He said Canadian insurers have seen claims totalling around $2 billion every year since 2018.

Click to play video: 'Canada wildfires: Navigating home insurance amid ongoing fires'

Canada wildfires: Navigating home insurance amid ongoing fires

Speaking from Mahone Bay, N.S., Stewart said 2023 looks to be on par with previous years. He added that the high costs in past years tended to come from massive, single events rather than of “a number of catastrophes,” like this year.

With more fires and floods, he said insurers are taking a close look at how well a community is prepared – “whether there are fire hydrants, whether there is a trained fire response, volunteer firefighters in place, whether they are fire engines” — when considering new premiums.

Story continues below advertisement

“We think that those that live in communities that are at high risk and that aren’t well defended are going to probably see premium changes,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Mental health care an emotionally taxing rollercoaster for some during natural disasters'

Mental health care an emotionally taxing rollercoaster for some during natural disasters

Anne Kleffner, professor of risk management and insurance at the University of Calgary, said construction costs have also driven up premiums.

Earlier this year, some California insurers stopped offering coverage for fires after a series of devastating fires made doing so too expensive.

Kleffner said Canada is not approaching that point, though admitted it could be a long-term concern.

She said the big disasters this country has suffered, like the Fort McMurray wildfires in 2016, were at least manageable, even if they were terrible. She said the underlying risk factors in California, coupled with the high real estate prices, makes insurance in the state much more expensive than anywhere in Canada.

Story continues below advertisement

Click to play video: 'Why some people are ‘migrating’ because of climate change'

Why some people are ‘migrating’ because of climate change

And while insurance companies are likely receiving many, many more claims now than normal, she said government regulations require them to keep enough resources on hand so that they can afford more claims than they would typically receive.

Companies also manage their exposure, she said, and can bring in staff from different provinces or from the U.S. to help manage a large influx.

Kleffner also said all-home insurance covers fire.

She recommended that anyone who must evacuate their home know their insurance policy and bring a copy with them in case they need to make a claim.

With a file from Global’s Touria Izri.

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.