Canadian Underwriter

IBC wants national disaster fund

March 1, 2004   by Canadian Underwriter

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In response to the “Filmon Report” on last summer’s B.C. forest fires, the Insurance Bureau of Canada is calling for a national natural disaster protection fund to be established.
The report, tabled Friday in B.C.’s legislature, makes a variety of recommendations aimed at avoiding the kind of destruction and other issues that resulted from the firestorms in the Kamloops and Kelowna regions last summer.
In total, 45,000 people were evacuated, with 334 homes destroyed. The report says total damages are in the $700 million range.
Insurers, for their part, are paying out more than $200 million in claims, notes Lindsey Olson, vice president of the B.C./Yukon region for IBC. “While B.C. has had many forest fires over the years, the large and persistent fires that hit Kelowna and Barriere (north of Kamloops) were a new risk for the province.”
The IBC is pushing for a national fund, where governments would invest annually in critical infrastructure, mitigation, response and recovery programs for natural disasters. “Together, insurers, government and other stakeholders can better protect people in the future,” says Olson.
The report did highlight insurance in one respect, noting that governments need to look at creating and enforcing building codes which include fireproofing, and insurers should consider premium breaks to policyholders who meet such standards.

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