Are multi-billion dollar disasters on the rise?

Severe weather is everyone's problem.
Working together on adaptation is the solution, IBC CEO says.

HALIFAX, Feb. 23, 2012 /CNW/ - Don Forgeron, President & CEO of Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), was in Halifax 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 Halifax Club, Mr. Forgeron said that too much unwanted water is getting a lot of attention today in Nova Scotia, across Canada and on the global stage.

"Insured water losses in this province rose from more than $20 million in 2005 to more than $38 million in 2009. In other words, they almost doubled in four years."

Multi-billion dollar disasters are becoming more common around the world. The number of extreme floods tripled between 1980 and 2010. Munich Re, a global reinsurance company, reported recently that in 2011 world-wide economic losses from natural catastrophes were a record $378 billion.

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?  Because 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."

Mr. Forgeron gave examples of how flooding and water damage are tearing apart communities in Nova Scotia.

  • Last August, Hurricane Irene drenched many communities, disrupting essential services and air travel.
  • In the fall of 2010, more than 200 millimetres of rain fell over four days in south-west Nova Scotia, forcing 120 families out of their homes.
  • Earlier in 2010, Tropical Storm Earl lashed Nova Scotia with high winds and heavy rain, earlier toppling trees and power lines and cutting power to about 200,000 homes.

He applauded the province for investing in adaptation through the Atlantic Climate Solutions Project, a co-operative enterprise of the Atlantic provinces that brings together communities, organizations and universities to work on adaptation strategies.

"We are excited about partnerships like this because water is not just my industry's problem - it has become everyone's problem. At the same time, we recognize that our industry has a responsibility to develop solutions and work with government partners, the private sector, citizens and community groups to minimize the impact of severe weather," he said, adding that IBC has put together a comprehensive adaptation plan to do just that.

Across Canada aging water and sewer infrastructure failure is to blame for most of the water 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 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."

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.

To view media releases and information, visit the Media Centre of IBC's website at www.ibc.ca.

SOURCE INSURANCE BUREAU OF CANADA

For further information:

Amanda Dean
Manager, Government Relations, IBC
Atlantic Region
(902) 429-2730 x 225

Steve Kee
Director, Media Relations, IBC
(416) 362-2031 x 4387
416-841-5669
skee@ibc.ca

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INSURANCE BUREAU OF CANADA

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