BC Spring Cleaning: Insurers estimate winter storm claims will exceed $135 million

    VANCOUVER, March 21 /CNW/ - With the stormy winter of 2007 now over and
spring upon us, Canada's home, car and business insurers announced today that
they expect to pay more than $135 million to help British Columbians recover
from the storms that struck earlier this winter. That will make it the largest
insurance loss in British Columbia since the wildfires of 2003 which resulted
in losses of $200 million.
    "It can take months to determine the full impact of the kinds of storms
that hit this past winter, but the latest insurance industry information
suggests that claims are likely to exceed $135 million," said Lindsay Olson,
Vice-President, British Columbia and Yukon, Insurance Bureau of Canada.
    "To date, insurance companies have reported a large volume of claims -
more than 17,000," Olson added. "Among the hardest hit areas were the Lower
Mainland, Southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Most of the claims
were for wind storm and sewer back-up damage."
    After each storm, insurance company employees worked tirelessly to deal
with an unusual number of claims over a short period of time.
    Olson said: "Insurers appreciated the patience of claimants while they
helped those most in need first. Restoration of damaged homes and businesses
was also longer than usual in some cases due to the shortage of available
resources. This shortage is a result of the province's booming economy."
    According to many experts, increasingly stormy weather patterns are here
to stay. This is why insurers are urging residents to prepare today for future
storms. "By preparing in advance, you can reduce the impact of a storm," said

    Here are some tips on how to avoid or lessen storm damage:

    -   Prepare your property and, in particular, your trees for next winter.
        Scan the trees near and on your property for branches overhanging
        power lines, or trees likely to fall on power lines or your home
        should a severe wind or ice storm occur. Even if trees are healthy,
        their branches may need to be trimmed.

    -   Clear fallen leaves from roof gutters, downspouts and drainage system
        to mitigate localized flooding and potential property damage.

    -   Bring outdoor furniture and other outdoor items indoors when a
        windstorm watch is announced. Anything left outdoors can become a
        missile in a windstorm.

    "When your policy comes up for renewal, review your coverage options with
your insurance professional," added Olson. "Make sure your policy reflects
your needs before the next storm hits."
    For more information on property insurance, call Insurance Bureau of
Canada Consumer Information Center at (877) 772-3777.

    Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national trade association of the
private property and casualty insurance industry. It represents more than 90%
of the non-government home, car and business insurance in Canada. To view news
releases and information, visit the media section of IBC's website at

For further information:

For further information: Lindsay Olson, (604) 684-3635, extension 224

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