Monday, September 16, 2013

Flood insurance not possible without new maps, insurers say

Matt McClure in the Calgary Herald: Top executives with the country’s insurance sector — which suffered losses of more than $2 billion in southern Alberta’s recent floods — unanimously agree Canada will see more such disasters due to intense rains caused by climate change, making comprehensive flood insurance unavailable to homeowners.

While the industry is divided on whether it can provide homeowners with policies to protect them against future overland flooding, a soon-to-be-released study found most companies believe there is still an urgent need for updated mapping that accurately identifies the increasing risk.

Co-author Blair Feltmate, a climate-change specialist at the University of Waterloo, said the executives surveyed said the maps are essential for industry to price its products and for governments to plan how they will protect vulnerable communities.

“They see what climate change is causing and they’re paying for it now already through sewer backup coverage,” Feltmate said in an interview. “We’re rapidly heading into the realm where certain areas of Canada may be uninsurable.”

The report says the insurance industry could share the cost with government of updating risk maps for large population centres, using topographical data on development changes and the impacts of climate change on river flows....

The June 2013 flooding in Calgary, shot by Ryan L. C. Quan, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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