Canadian Underwriter

Brokers want more consistency in overland flood policies

June 2, 2022   by Alyssa DiSabatino

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Despite Manitoba being battered by flooding and severe weather since mid-April, many homeowners may find themselves without overland flood coverage, according to the CEO of the Insurance Brokers Association of Manitoba.  

Following an “unseasonably cold spring,” significant snowmelt in April, and a series of significant rainfall and thunderstorms events in May, an overland flood warning was issued for most of southern Manitoba by the provincial government Monday. But brokers are wrestling with the fact that their higher-risk clients who most need the coverage aren’t likely covered for overland flood.

“This coverage is relatively new to the province and is not universally accessible,” Insurance Brokers Association of Manitoba CEO Grant Wainikka says in an email statement. “As expected, those at the highest risk for overland water losses often don’t qualify for coverage. I have not seen numbers on the uptake of overland coverage in our province, but my sense is that we’ll see many more clients discussing this with their broker in the near future.”  

Across Canada, only about half of policyholders have added on this form of coverage to their policy, IBC’s director of consumer and industry relations, Rob de Pruis previously told Canadian Underwriter. 

Of relevance to brokers, a recent survey by rate aggregator found 30% of Canadian homeowners were unaware that coverages like overland flood are add-ons to a standard home insurance policy. Only 9% added overland flood coverage to their policies last year. 

According to LowestRates, 29% of respondents considered add-on insurance but did not add it, 21% added on internal water damage (sewer back-up), 8% added earthquake damage coverage and 4% inquired about add-on insurance for flood or earthquake but were declined. 

Residential overland flood coverage is relatively new to the marketplace and only became available in 2015, spurred by the Calgary floods of 2013.  

While some Manitoban communities are “better prepared” for flooding, with ring dykes and drainage systems, Wainikka says current losses will likely be significant.  

“Brokerages are dealing with wet and flooded basements, sewer back-up and now wind damage in urban areas. Many cottage owners are experiencing soil erosion, and losses to boathouses and docks,” Wainikka says. “Water levels in cottage country, including in Whiteshell [Provincial Park], are at historical highs. Some roads have been washed-out so there will likely be consequences on municipalities and governments in their eventual repair as well.”  

Flooded acreages, which have delayed spring planting in rural areas, overland flooding claims and roof claims were also reported by consumers, adjusters told Canadian Underwriter on Tuesday. 

“Brokerages are busy and helping their clients understand their coverages and assisting with a multitude of claims. We’re hoping for a dry couple of weeks. Manitobans are a hardy bunch and we will get through this,” says Wainikka.


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