The town of Sainte-Thérèse, Quebec, along with Laval and Rosemère were inundated with flooding as the banks of the Rivière des Mille-Îles overflowed into the adjacent suburbs of Montreal earlier this month.
In Sainte-Thérèse alone, 200 were left homeless and while the provincial government footed the bill to put the residents up in hotels, relief funds from the government didn’t cover the cost of their home repairs.
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Neither will their insurance.
That’s because, like many Canadians, most of the residents of Sainte-Thérèse don’t have overland flood coverage as part of their home insurance policy.
Personal lines manager at Burns & Wilcox Canada, Carol Bolduc said only three insurers (Burns & Wilcox being one of them) offer overland flood coverage in Quebec and it’s not cheap.
“It is not a mass produced endorsement,” she explained. “Only people who need it will buy it. If every client was buying it in Quebec or in Ontario or in Canada, then the premium would be much lower because there would be money in it. But not many people need it and not many people buy it.
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“The broker has a responsibility to ask ‘Do you have flood coverage?’ or ‘Are you aware you don’t have any flood coverage on your policy?’ then the insured would say ‘Oh, I don’t have it and I need it, can you sell it to me?’ It’s an eternal selling point.”
Though the Canadian flood market is changing Bolduc isn’t necessarily encouraged that overland flood policies will become widely available or affordable any time soon. However, she thinks there’s something that can be done.
“What I suggest is that the insurance companies jointly work with the government, at least to offer some minimum coverage to the people in flooding areas like they do with wind coverage in Florida.
Maybe we should have that in Quebec,” Bolduc said.
“Most clients don’t know they do not have any (overland) flood coverage. They’re unaware of what they have on their policy. They think they’re covered but they’re not covered.”
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