Hurricane Juan insurance tab tops $113 million – points to need for preventive measures: IBC

HALIFAX, May 4, 2004 – Total insured losses from Hurricane Juan continue to add up, and to date the insurance industry has paid out $113.4 million in claims throughout the Atlantic provinces. Losses are up by nearly 40% since initial reports were provided in November 2003.

“These numbers, on top of the winter storms that shut down much of the Maritimes, illustrate the need for preventive measures aimed at minimizing the impact of natural disasters,” says Don Forgeron, Vice-President, Atlantic, Insurance Bureau of Canada.

“The experience with communities that choose to undertake a disaster mitigation strategy is that such measures save lives, minimize disruption and cut down on insurance costs. Yet there is no national initiative on disaster mitigation. This is equivalent to having no seat belts in cars, or guardrails on highways. We know the investment would pay off, yet many decision-makers are willing to take a wait and see approach, then pick up the pieces when disaster hits,” Forgeron adds.

Losses incurred due to natural disasters have been doubling every 5 to 10 years in Canada (a 14-fold increase over the past 40 years), and in the past 12 months Nova Scotia has seen three such events. At the same time, spending on infrastructure development and upkeep has declined dramatically. Every year, IBC’s Foundation for the Future program recognizes communities that have taken steps to manage their exposure to natural disasters, extreme weather and weather-related events. Measures that would merit consideration for recognition include:

  • efforts to strengthen buildings and other infrastructure;
  • hazard assessments, with accompanying action plans; and
  • efforts to maintain protective features of the natural environment (sand dunes, wetlands, forests etc.)

Forgeron says that programs like Foundation for the Future are merely a starting point. “Like any initiative, it can only go so far if communities are working in isolation. Weather phenomena do not stop at town lines, and so in order to be effective, a disaster strategy needs to be as geographically broad as possible,” says Forgeron.

Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national trade association of the private property and casualty insurance industry. It represents more than 90% of the non-government home, car and business insurance in Canada.