IBC warns B.C. residents to check limits of insurance policies

Published: July 11, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



British Columbia is currently being ravaged by wildfires that are sweeping out of control through central parts of the province. With a state of emergency declared, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) suggests policyholders should confirm their policy limits with their insurance providers.

Fire has already caused 7,000 people to be evacuated from their homes and the number is likely to rise in the coming days and months. Most home and commercial insurance coverage protects against fire damage, so many residents will be covered during the cat event. Additionally, insurance policies cover for “reasonable additional living expenses (ALE) for a specified period of time,” during a mandatory evacuation period, the IBC reminds.

Steve Kee, director of media & digital communications with IBC, told Canadian Underwriter that customers need to speak with insurers to know limitations. Many individuals have different circumstances, so the best way to know is to ask. Kee also pointed to an overall rise in cat events during recent years:

“In fact, a record in 2016. We know that flood risk is rising across the country as a result of climate change and events this year alone show why it’s so important for governments, our industry and consumers to work together to protect Canadians. As for fire, this too is a problem… linked to the climate,” he said.

Kee adds that the IBC has observed more awareness events regarding cat events and a willingness to engage Canadians with education. The Bureau itself has conducted such events, including a touring earthquake simulator.

B.C. is under a provincial state of emergency in an effort to deliver a “coordinated response to the current wildfire situation and to ensure public safety.”

Wildfires are spreading through the provinces, with 56 new blazes reported on Friday alone. Ashcroft, Cache Creek, and Princeton have all been issued evacuation orders.