Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Global warming a culprit in growth of water-damage insurance claims

Tracy Sherlock in the Vancouver Sun: ...Water damage has overtaken fire damage for insurance claims, and that trend looks to continue as king tides, warming oceans and more intense storms multiply the effects of sea level rise. “We don’t get hurricanes quite like Sandy in B.C., but you do get heavy winter storms with big winds and they blow a lot of water,” said Gordon McBean, professor at Western University in London, Ont., and director for research at the centre for environment and sustainability.

“When the wind is blowing, it takes a hold of water and pushes the water toward the land. Once it hits the land, it can’t go anywhere, so it piles up and you create a storm surge, which can push the water up to quite high levels, metres above the standard level, and that’s what happened in New York with Sandy.” In the U.S., damage from floods is covered by insurance; in Canada it is not.

Patricia Stirling, director for underwriting at BCAA, said flood damage — from a tsunami, for example — is never covered. However, a sewer backup that occurs as a result of a flood might be covered. And water damage from a plugged toilet or broken water tank is usually covered. But still, the amount of money paid out by insurance agencies for water damage is growing quickly....

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