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Future-Proofing: B.C. atmospheric rivers caused estimated $450 million in insured damage

Vancouver, British Columbia — Experts are putting the damage incurred from past weeks’ atmospheric river weather in British Columbia around the $450 million mark, according to preliminary estimates from Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ).

The weather event that began on Nov. 13 and lasted over two weeks is expected to be the most costly weather-related disaster in the province’s history.

Flooding and mudslides led to the loss of life, as well as extensive property damage throughout much of B.C.’s interior.

“While the insurance damage stemming from these flood events is significant, the sad reality is that many residents impacted were located in high-risk flood areas and floodplains where flood insurance coverage is not available,” said Pacific and Western v-p for the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), Aaron Sutherland. 

“As a result, the overwhelming majority of costs for this disaster will be borne by government and taxpayers. As we continue to see the increasing impacts of our changing climate, it’s clear much more must be done to create a culture of preparedness and to build our resilience to the risks we face.”

IBC says they are working towards establishing a residential flood insurance program to better support flood preparedness for higher-risk communities.

“Insurance can help individuals recover financially, but the human impact is often irreparable,” said Sutherland. 

“These disasters are also having an outsized impact on those most vulnerable and, as a result, we must greatly enhance our efforts to mitigate future climate change and to adapt to the new weather reality we face.”

Anyone who has been impacted by this event or who has questions about their home, vehicle or business insurance, should call their insurance representative or IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC.

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