Bill Blair

Courtesy CBC

Getting climate change insurance could be forced on Canadian homeowners, says a federal report.

“We welcome and support the core findings,”

Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said in a Thursday statement.

Blacklock’s Reporter said the report by the Council of Canadian Academies complained too few property owners at risk of flooding have private insurance.

Canadian insurers first sold overland flood coverage in 2015.

Some people have claimed weather disasters in Canada this year — from floods the forest fires — have been caused by climate change.

“Canada is an outlier among many advanced economies offering some form of nationalized flood insurance,” said the report.

The report questioned payment of federal disaster relief to homeowners who live on flood plains and cannot or will not pay for private insurance.

“Individuals who have reason to expect relief may choose to assume additional risk,” said the report.

The Academies proposed overland flood coverage become mandatory.

“The option to opt-out rather than in to flood insurance could be provided,” said the report.

“Evidence shows people are less likely to opt-out of such an option than they are to accept what is being offered. Multi-year insurance contracts could reduce the likelihood of individuals dropping their coverage.”

“In Canada mortgage lenders already require some form of home insurance,” wrote an expert panel chaired by Scott Vaughan, former federal Commissioner of the Environment.

“In the panel’s view, adjusting these requirements to ensure adequate protections from climate-related hazards is increasingly warranted in the face of mounting disaster risks.

“Means-tested vouchers that help cover the costs of flood insurance, funded from the general tax base, are a promising approach to addressing equity concerns without undermining the price signal of the insurance program. Funding hazard mitigation through grants and loans can also play an important role.”

Blair did not comment specifically on the proposal for mandatory flood coverage. Blair last November 18 said the cabinet was continuing work underway since 2019 on a national flood insurance plan.

“I have had communication with the Insurance Bureau of Canada,” said Blair.

“We are working very closely with them in development of a national flood insurance program for the country. But in the interim, we know there’s important work to be done.”

The IBC in 2019 testimony at the Commons environment committee estimated of about 13 million homeowners nationwide “approximately one million homes or 10% of all residences across the country are at high risk” on flood plains.

Relying on householders at greatest risk to buy private insurance was impractical, testified Craig Stewart, vice-president of the IBC.

“They would drain any insurance pool that you would set up,” he said.

“Other policyholders would essentially be subsidizing them for living there, which is not right. Those people should probably not have been living there in the first place.”

The 2013 Calgary flood saw $1.7 billion in claims, one of the largest insurance claims of its kind, many property owners had inadequate coverage.

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