New IBC head calls for improved regulation of insurance industry to better protect Canadians in ever-riskier world

TORONTO, Nov. 14 2007 – In the face of climate change, terrorism and other growing threats, consumers and governments cannot afford to take the insurance industry for granted and assume it will always be there to protect Canadians in times of need.

This was the message today from Mark Yakabuski to the Economic Club of Toronto in his first public address as President & Chief Executive Officer of Insurance Bureau of Canada. Yakabuski said Canada has one of the most outdated regulatory systems in the world, and warned that this business environment could severely hamper the companies that Canadians need to manage risk in an ever-riskier world.

He said: “The appropriate role of government, therefore, is not to hold on to regulatory barriers but to encourage the flow of investment to Canada…I am hopeful in the months to come that we can achieve real progress in modernizing the regulatory regime facing property and casualty insurers.”

Yakabuski also discussed some of the emerging threats facing the world, and the insurance industry’s central role in helping society manage those threats. “The property and casualty insurance industry has the dubious distinction of being on the front line of virtually every kind of threat that characterizes the complex world in which we live.”

This includes climate change. Yakabuski pointed out the insurance industry was the first major industry to become concerned with this global crisis. He said that, amidst the ongoing debate around carbon emission reductions, what gets lost is the pressing need to improve Canada’s infrastructure.

“What many, if not all, actors in this great drama have forgotten, is that the most immediate challenge facing Canada is the need to adapt to climate change before the calamities associated with it become totally unmanageable…Let there be no mistake, severe weather is not something that is coming. It has already begun. We must adapt to its consequences. And we must do it now.”

Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national trade association of the property and casualty insurance industry. Its member companies provide more than 90% of the private home, car and business insurance sold in Canada.