RSA Poll: Small Business Owners Take on Mother Nature

New survey reveals small business owners are unprepared for severe weather

TORONTO, Oct. 18 2010 – According to a recent Leger Marketing poll commissioned by RSA Canada, small business owners have no plans to change their insurance policies, despite the fact that many of them were affected by inclement weather in 2009. The same survey revealed that 98 per cent of small business owners aren’t planning to upgrade their insurance, even though 61 per cent of these same respondents lost power in 2009 with some also reporting a loss in sales, or being forced to shut down the office.

Considering the weather conditions from last year and the unpredictability of Canadian winters, these statistics are particularly alarming. In 2009 – one of the worst years on record for weather-related insurance claims – RSA witnessed seven incidents, categorized as catastrophes, caused by storms, hail, floods, fires and hurricanes. RSA had 122 claims from small business owners worth more than $2 million in water, wind and fire damage.

“The risk of inclement weather damaging your livelihood is very real and that is why statistics such as these are so troubling,” says Irene Bianchi, vice president of Claims and Corporate Services for RSA Canada. “It’s a reminder to all small business owners to prepare for the unexpected.”

The survey indicated that of all the weather conditions experienced in 2009, most small business owners (67 per cent) were affected by storms, with 90 per cent of respondents from Atlantic Canada reporting storm-related damage compared to 63 per cent in Ontario. This statistic especially rings true in light of hurricanes Earl and Igor, both of which affected many business owners in the Maritime provinces. Floods received the second highest response, with 36 per cent of respondents from the Prairies reporting flood-related damage.

While the majority of small business owners have no plans to revise their insurance policies, a small minority have made efforts to prepare for this year’s inclement weather. Of this group, the majority have prepared by making updates to its emergency procedures, creating a back-up power source, renovating the building and/or ensuring that the roofing is adequate.

“It’s important that Canadian small business owners speak to their insurance brokers to ensure they are fully protected against weather-related damage and take the necessary steps to secure their properties from harm in the event of severe weather,” said Bianchi. “It’s just the sensible thing to do.”

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This telephone survey was conducted with small business owners between August 5 and 10, 2010, with at least 10 employees in Canada. Using a national random sample of 300 respondents, this method simulates a probability sample, which would yield a maximum margin of error of +\-5.7%, 19 times out of 20.

About RSA

RSA Canada includes Roins Financial Services Limited, Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada, Quebec Assurance Company, Western Assurance Company, Ascentus Insurance Ltd., Canadian Northern Shield Insurance Company, The Johnson Corporation, Unifund Assurance Company, Noraxis Capital Corporation and is part of RSA Insurance Group plc. RSA Canada employs approximately 3,400 people and is represented by a large network of brokers across the country. In 2009, the Canadian Group wrote $1.9bn in direct premiums with assets exceeding $5.5 billion. Internationally, RSA Insurance Group plc employs about 23,000 people and has the capability to write business in 130 countries and in 2009 its net written premiums were £6.7bn.

RSA is a trade name of Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada.