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An emerging risk: how to prepare for climate change

As Canada turned 150 this year, many people will look back on the country’s past – but what does the future hold? For one, climate change continues to become increasingly apparent which, in turn, could affect you and your family. Already, wind and water damage caused by severe weather accounts for half of all home insurance claims and, as anyone keeping up with news across the country can attest, floods are on the rise.

Individual in yellow rain coat and boots, standing in rain and looking at flooded street

The good news: you can safeguard your home, property, and belongings. Certain programs exist to counteract the effects of climate change and shield Canadians from the potential impact of environmental shifts, including initiatives from the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation (Intact Centre), whose resources are available to everyone, regardless of their insurance provider.

So, what can homeowners like you do? Two things: find out where you stand and take action. Here’s how:

Understand your risk

Car submerged underwater in flooded street

Throughout springtime this year, flooding struck communities from coast to coast, inflicting varying degrees of damage to a diverse range of properties. In the Greater Toronto Area, for instance, it costs an average of $40,000 for homeowners to restore flooded basements. While you can never predict a flood, you can take practical actions to reduce your risk of incurring flood damage. Intact is there to help: in 2017, the Intact Centre is piloting a Home Flood Protection Program in Burlington, Ontario, which features an on-site flood-risk evaluation service known as a Home Flood Protection Assessment. Following a comprehensive visual inspection performed by a trained Assessor, you receive a concise, easy-to-read report that provides an unprecedented insight into your vulnerability, allowing you to plan accordingly from an insurance perspective and protect your home from future flooding events. Lessons learned in Burlington will inform the development of a nation-wide flood risk reduction program that will provide Canadians with the practical resources they need to protect their homes against basement flooding.

On a larger scale, the Intact Centre’s Infrastructure Adaptation Program takes a broader look at risks. The program focuses on ways to limit risks through community design and natural infrastructure, and helps communities determine the best course of action. But what does this mean for you? In short, it means that your community may soon be better secured against floods and ultimately be in a better position to gauge potential weaknesses. Through this program, Intact is working towards the betterment of all Canadian communities as climate change doesn’t just affect Intact clients, but policy holders of every company.

Prepare for the unexpected

Aerial view of a flooded neighbourhood

Once you identify your areas of risk, take actions that could eventually save you a significant amount of money and emotional stress. First off, talk to an expert – a disaster recovery expert or your broker, for example. They will guide you on how to prepare your home for the unexpected. Simple things, such as installing a backwater valve (a device that will ensure sewage cannot reenter your house in the event of heavy rainfall), or replacing old roof shingles to keep water out may make all the difference.

Climate change is certainly a hot topic these days, and for good reason: the rising chance of extreme weather has become a pressing global concern, sometimes with devastating implications for homeowners. In this 150th birthday year, our country has no option but to look to its future with proactive adaptive measures and policies as the world enters a new climate reality.

Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation – Home Flood Protection Program:

Insurance is Evolving – Tips to Protect Your Home:

Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation – The Infrastructure Adaptation Program (IAP):