Multi-billion-dollar disasters on the rise: IBC

Severe weather is everyone’s problem, and working together on adaptation is the solution

Saint John, NB (Feb. 22, 2012) — Don Forgeron, President & CEO of Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), was in Saint John today to talk about an issue that he believes has become everyone’s problem: severe weather, with an emphasis on water. In an address to the Saint John Board of Trade, Mr. Forgeron said that water and the problems it creates belong to all of us. It’s everyone’s issue. “Severe weather matters to all of us. It’s playing out dramatically on global, national, and neighbourhood stages. So why do we care? Insurance premiums and taxes are not the solution to this problem. No. We need a collaborative effort and insightful public policy. As a society, as businessmen, and as neighbours, we need to join together.”

He cited examples:

  • Water losses in New Brunswick rose from $7 million in 2005 to $23 million in 2009, almost quadrupling in just four years.
  • Flooding and water damage are tearing apart communities – places like St. George and St. Stephen – where New Brunswickers work, play, go to school and deserve to live in safety.
  • Multi-billion dollar disasters are becoming more common around the world. Munich Re, a global reinsurance company, reported recently that in 2011 world-wide economic losses from natural catastrophes were a record $378 billion.
  • Across Canada, aging water and sewer infrastructure failure is to blame for most of the damage. In 2007, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities released a study showing that Canada has a water and sewage infrastructure deficit of $31 billion.

While Mr. Forgeron said that it is encouraging to see that senior levels of government are now including adaptation measures in their climate change plans, he urged them to do more.

“The $150 million the federal government has committed to adaptation is a good start but it’s not enough to address the adaptation problems our country faces,” he said. “We need focused, intergovernmental co-operation to build resilience to severe weather patterns and minimize associated economic and insured losses.”

“Our industry has put together a comprehensive adaptation plan and we look forward to working with governments at all levels, the private sector, citizens and community groups to develop an effective adaptation strategy,” he said.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada

Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national industry association representing Canada’s home, car and business insurers. Its member companies represent 90% of the private property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. The P&C insurance industry employs over 114,000 Canadians, pays more than $7 billion in taxes to the federal, provincial and municipal governments, and has a total premium base of $40 billion.

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