Aviva Canada: Ontario flood claims six times higher than three years ago

Published: July 16, 2019

Updated: August 1, 2019

Author: Luke Jones

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While spring brought warmer weather following a cold winter, it also brought flooding to Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick. Storms and snowmelt caused by warming weather brought significant flooding to regions across these provinces. In Ontario, the number of overland water and flood insurance claims was six times higher than three years ago, according to Aviva Canada.

In a press release, the company said the increase was observed when comparing April 2019 with April 2016.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of catastrophic weather events. That translates into claims and this is especially so during the spring season, whether it’s flooding or other types of events – we’ve seen some fast thaws that led to a lot of losses, pipes bursting, and things like that,” said Bryant Vernon (pictured), Aviva Canada’s chief claims officer. “It’s a problem that seems to be getting worse rather than easing up.”

Ottawa and surrounding areas were mostly affected by floods in Ontario, with an increase in severe weather being the main culprit. Vernon points out weather is a leading reason why more claims are being made, although moving populations may play a part.

“It’s hard to determine whether or not this is due to population moves, so people moving into areas and then realizing it’s an issue, versus it being a significant increase in weather-related events, but generally speaking, we’ve seen more severe storms,” he said. “These are storms that have strong winds – strong enough to do damage, but not necessarily to be classified as a tornado or a hurricane – [as well as] heavy rainfall.”

Major construction developments are also impacting the ability of water to pass into Lake Ontario, increasing the risk of floods.

“There’s been a significant amount of construction, so it’s changing the way water can recede,” said Vernon. “It’s definitely something that adds to the discussion of whether or not some of the activities that we’re doing are affecting the ability of water to drain out in ways that it typically would.”

Aviva Canada was among the first group of home insurance providers to debut flood insurance in 2015. The company says over 50% of homeowners in Ontario now have the flood insurance endorsement on their home insurance policy. Vernon says even those inland are purchasing the protection.

“That’s something that we’re quite proud of because it provides coverage that historically wasn’t there, so that’s one of the ways that we’ve responded. I think the industry as a whole has begun to adopt that endorsement. We are always actively looking at, are there additional coverages or endorsements that make sense to help our customers, but I think that’s one that directly addresses the need in the market for that coverage,” said Vernon.