B.C. homeowners advised: check your insurance coverage now: IBC

Don’t wait until fire is roaring down the hill

VANCOUVER, July 8, 2004 – With over 300 active forest fires burning in British Columbia already, Insurance Bureau of Canada is advising homeowners in the province to check their insurance coverage now, rather than waiting until forest fires are threatening their communities.

“We saw some tragic situations last summer. Some homeowners were caught either without insurance or without adequate insurance,” says Lindsay Olson, Vice President, Pacific Region, Insurance Bureau of Canada. “Don’t wait until the fire is roaring down the hill. Understanding your insurance is a year round task, not just a summer one,” advises Olson. During natural disasters, insurance companies may have temporary underwriting restrictions in place, making the instant purchase or upgrading of insurance exceptionally difficult.

These same factors could also slow real estate transactions during a state of emergency, potentially affecting realtors and those looking to buy or sell a home. “In these situations, new policies are provided on a case-by-case basis, greatly increasing the amount of time it takes to obtain insurance,” explains Olson. “Having some flexibility in the closing date will be important for all concerned and will eliminate the pressure of these deadlines.”

Olson stresses that insurance companies will continue to renew policies for all existing customers even during a state of emergency, just as they did during the historic fires in 2003. Canada’s insurers will also be there to promptly deal with all claims. Last year’s fires generated more than $200 million in claims, all of which have received the priority attention of Canada’s insurers. “Our industry stepped up and did our part during the 2003 fires, and we are ready to do so again,” concludes Olson. “Homeowners could help themselves now by checking their insurance, and taking steps to mitigate the risk to their homes and property.”

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. To view news releases and information, visit the media section of IBC’s website at www.ibc.ca.