Most Canadians living in high-risk flood areas don’t know it

The P&C industry has a role to play in educating homeowners on the consequences of flooding, says university director

A new study finds 94% of Canadians who live in high-risk flood zones don’t know it, and are paying more than $600 million out-of-pocket each year due to water damage.

The survey of 2,300 Canadian homeowners living in “flood-risk” areas as deemed by the Canadian government’s flood damage reduction program was conducted by researchers at the University of Waterloo’s Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change and the Partners for Action research network, the latter of which studies flood resiliency.

In addition to the vast majority of  respondents being unaware they live in high-risk areas most also did not know the onus is on homeowners to insure against flood damage. “Canadians pay $600 million out-of-pocket for flood damage every year,” says Jason Thistlethwaite, a professor at the University of Waterloo, in a press release. “With disaster-assistance costs expected to double over the next five years, homeowners can’t afford to remain in the dark about their options and responsibilities.”

The study also finds more than half of property owners think they should be responsible for protecting their homes from water damage, but few took measures like purchasing a sump pump or using water-resistant building materials. As well, few understood that flood risk will only increase over the next 25 years.

Professionals within the P&C industry have an opportunity to help educate homeowners on the dangers of flooding, suggests Shawna Peddle, the director of  Partners for Action.

“Property owners deserve to know what a flood could mean for their families and homes to be empowered to act,” says Peddle in a press release. “Governments and stakeholders, such as realtors and insurers, must meet homeowner demand for more information.”

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