Insurance Bureau of Canada donates $500,000 to fund research at Western to build safer homes

Claims from natural disasters doubling every five to seven years

LONDON, ON, April 27, 2007 – Thanks to a $500,000 donation from Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), a typical two-story brick house, similar to many homes found in tree-lined neighbourhoods across Canada, has been constructed in London, Ont., for the sole purpose of being slowly destroyed. Over the next few years, the home will be subjected to a variety of severe weather conditions, including simulated winds of up to a category five hurricane (200 miles per hour) that will eventually blow the roof off.

The research is being conducted at the Insurance Research Lab for Better Homes, the only facility of its kind in the world. Researchers at The University of Western Ontario Faculty of Engineering are testing the house, which is enclosed in a corrugated steel shell, in a controlled environment to learn how to build safer residential structures and recommend improvements to building codes.

“Without the generous donation from Insurance Bureau of Canada, we wouldn’t be here today to officially open the Insurance Research Lab for Better Homes,” said Professor Michael Bartlett. “This lab will allow us to assess the structural integrity of houses and help develop cost-effective methods to retrofit existing homes and reduce human error during construction.”

“Canada is witnessing a greater frequency in the severe types of storms that in the past only occurred every 100 to 200 years,” said Stan Griffin, IBC President and CEO. “In fact, claims resulting from natural disasters are now doubling every five to seven years.”

On Aug. 19, 2005, severe storms in Southwestern Ontario resulted in more than $500 million in insurance claims. Storms in B.C. earlier this year that hit Vancouver’s Lower Mainland, southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands created the second most expensive natural disaster in the province’s history, with insured damage of $135 million. The costliest disaster in Canadian history is still The Great Ice Storm of 1998. Blanketing Quebec and much of Eastern Ontario, it resulted in more than $1.2 billion in insurance claims.

Canada’s home, car and business insurers have enjoyed an ongoing partnership with Western through the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR). The industry founded ICLR in 1998 to promote effective loss mitigation strategies by disseminating research results and influencing public policy change.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada

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