Bill Adams, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) vice-president of the Western and Pacific Region, says the rising costs of insurance claims leaves no doubt that climate change is largely responsible:
"It’s happening. The wake-up call is now. There has been a radical shift in the frequency, severity and nature of insurance claims that we’re seeing as an industry in Canada."
According to IBC, insurance payouts from extreme weather have more than doubled every five to 10 years since the 1980s [emphasis mine], and since 2010, claims have hovered between $1 billion and a historic $3 billion, compared with an average of $400 million per year from 1983 to 2008.
Our head-in-the-sand approach is clearly counterproductive:
"I don't think we are adapting to our new weather reality nearly as quickly as we need to," Adams insisted. "I think most Canadians are largely if not (completely) oblivious. Those who are paying attention are those who have either always been engaged and had an understanding of it, or people who have been affected."And besides the existential peril climate change presents, higher insurance premiums are on the way:
While the Fort McMurray fire alone is not enough to raise insurance premiums, he explained, a rash of wildfires across the country certainly could. It could take anywhere from one to three years to establish a trend, and once a trend is established, the costs will likely rise.The Bureau predicts that things are only going to get worse, much worse, over the coming decades, and suggests all homeowners take measures to protect their properties. These measures include installing back-flow valves, using fire-resistant shingles, making sure wall cracks are sealed, etc.
They certainly did after the 2013 floods in southern Alberta, he said, where some insurance companies are reported to have raised their average home insurance premiums by up to 20 per cent.
It is a somewhat sad commentary that only when climate disaster strikes do most people take climate change seriously. Long-term planning and vision, it would seem, have never been our species' strong suits.