Forest-fire season begins: Insurance Bureau of Canada
Vancouver, B.C. (July 11, 2006) – With over 1,000 forest fires so far this season and 71 active fires of note currently burning in British Columbia, Canada’s home, car, and business insurers are advising homeowners in the province to check their insurance coverage now, rather than waiting until forest fires are threatening their communities.
“We remember all too well the summer of 2003 when we saw some tragic situations. 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. The 2003 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.”
For more information on preventing fire around your home, visit the B.C./Yukon section of IBC’s Web site at www.ibc.ca to obtain a copy of The Homeowners FireSmart Manual (Courtesy of the B.C. Forest Service Protection Program, Government of British Columbia).
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. For more information, visit www.ibc.ca.