IBC: Release of flood maps should not impact insurers

As city makes history in releasing its flood maps, what does the move mean for the industry?

IBC: Release of flood maps should not impact insurers

Insurance News

By Lucy Hook

The city of Edmonton released preliminary neighbourhood flood maps to residents on Wednesday, a move which was the first of its kind among Canadian cities.

The city’s hand was forced somewhat in releasing the maps, after the province ruled in favour of a freedom of information request by Postmedia last month. It had originally intended to release the maps in 2017, CBC reports.

The release of the maps gives residents increased access to information about non-riverine (flooding not caused by overflowing rivers) patterns, but the Insurance Bureau of Canada told Insurance Business that the industry should not be significantly affected by the move.

“We support the move to release the flood maps as they will allow residents to understand their risk and consider mitigation efforts they can undertake in addition to those being considered by the City of Edmonton,” Bill Adams, Vice-President, Western and Pacific, Insurance Bureau of Canada said yesterday.

Following the ruling in October that the city was to release the maps, Craig Stewart, vice-president at the IBC, said that Edmonton’s maps had not been shared with insurance agencies – and would likely mean an increase in rates for some homeowners and a decrease for others.

“The more data is available, the better we are able to access risk,” Stewart said at the time.

The IBC has been developing its own nationwide maps in a partnership with LexisNexis Risk Solutions, among others, for insurers.

However, Adams said yesterday that insurers shouldn’t be impacted by the public release of the maps in Edmonton.

“Insurers have had access to their own flood mapping technology for years,” he said in an email, adding, “flood risk is generally already considered when determining premiums.”

Edmonton made history in releasing the maps, becoming the first municipality in Canada to give residents access to home-specific flood history and predictions for overland flooding, Edmonton Journal reports.

But Adams said that the industry would not be largely affected should other provinces follow suit.

“Since insurers have had access to these maps for years, the industry should not be affected. Providing flood mapping information to residents allows them to participate in the effort to mitigate risk,” he said.

Meanwhile, Edmonton’s engineering department continues to work on the flood maps and the flood mitigation study.

The maps are part of a larger technical review and proposal for infrastructure enhancements, the city said in a release on Wednesday, adding that new alternatives would be presented to the council for consideration in 2017.

Related stories:
Edmonton to release flood maps after privacy battle
The $60 million answer to overland flooding?

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