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B.C. urges residents to check their fire, flood insurance this year

Provincial disaster assistance not available for wildfire losses
A home on Othello Road near Hope about to fall into the Coquihalla River, November 2021. (Facebook/Sarah Giraud)

With months or even years of reconstruction work ahead of it from the damage of floods and fires in 2021, the B.C. government is urging property owners to make sure their flood and fire insurance is adequate for disasters yet to come.

The flooding of last November and severe wildfire seasons have taught B.C. some harsh lessons about the need for protection before people find themselves under an evacuation alert or order, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said Tuesday.

“As we’ve seen in recent years, from wildfires to floods, many households in the province are uninsured or underinsured for the hazards we face in British Columbia, which are becoming more frequent due to climate change,” Farnworth said April 12. “The province is working hard to support those affected by recent disasters, but ultimately flood and fire insurance is one of the best ways you can protect your family.”

B.C. is entering the spring runoff season, with snowpack above normal in parts of the province. The B.C. River Forecast Centre shows the northwest corner of the province at 134 per cent of normal snow pack, with higher than average accumulations also in the Skeena, Upper Fraser East, Quesnel and North Thompson watersheds. The Okanagan has the lowest snowpack in the province, at 74 per cent of average.

Dry conditions increase the risk of wildfire, and Farnworth notes that B.C.’s disaster financial assistance program is not available for wildfire losses because of the availability of fire insurance.

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The province recommends people contact the Insurance Bureau of Canada at 1-844-277-5422 to check their coverage and what is available. Residential flood insurance can be limited in areas of higher risk.

Aaron Sutherland, the bureau’s representative for Western Canada, said people should review their insurance before flood and fire season is underway.

The province has an online flood preparedness guide here and a wildfire preparedness guide here.


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