Co-operators CEO says insurance companies help customers understand floods

Published: May 30, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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The Co-operators was among the first providers to offer overland flood protection in Canada. Now the company’s president and CEO offered his opinion on the general flood climate in Canada, pointing out that other insurance companies must educate customers to improve resilience against flood events.

Rob Wesseling says that flooding will continue to impact Canada, its residents, and the insurance industry. The latter will suffer from increasing catastrophe costs.

“In the wake of widespread spring flooding, heavy rains and high-water levels now threaten more of the same in communities across the country. And while floodwaters inevitably recede, the financial and emotional fallout will continue to make waves,” Wesseling said in a special piece with The Globe and Mail.

The CEO added need to wake up to flooding and help customers adjust to the realities of climate change.

“In the past decade, insured losses from natural disasters, of which floods are the most common example, have more than doubled,” he said. “In this new reality, our role as insurers continues to be put to the test and rightly so. Today, in the context of a rapidly changing climate, we have a much larger role to play. Insurers and all levels of government must do more to prepare Canadians for the new normal of risk in this country, while ensuring they are well-equipped to adapt to a changing climate.”

“[As insurers,] we are accountable. We challenge our industry to raise awareness of the issues, equip Canadians to adapt to flood risk and actively engage with all levels of government. Furthermore, we must innovate and adapt products to ensure all Canadians are eligible for insurance at prices that reflect the risk they are exposed to,” he stated.

Wesseling also called on municipalities to make their flood maps private, something that has been called upon by other experts and organizations.