Extreme weather driving up home insurance costs

Home owners should expect to see their house insurance costs increase as a result of damage related to extreme weather events such as the Alberta floods and Ontario ice storm in recent months.
A Toronto Hydro worker surveys the damage on a street near Kingston Road and Victoria Park Avenue in Toronto following an ice storm, on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. (Matthew Sherwood/Canadian Press)

Home owners should prepare to pay more for property insurance as the severe weather trend that has battered the country during the past year is expected to continue.

Experts say that as insurance companies are forced to pay out more policies to cover storm damage, there are likely to be increases to premiums and to the way insurance is sold.

Intact Financial Corp., one of Canada's largest property and casualty insurers, says it has raised premiums by 15 to 20 per cent during the past few months as catastrophic losses and weather-related claims have risen.

The company has also introduced peril-based pricing and changes in the products, and is increasing its push to educate customers on how to limit the impact of storms.

"As severe weather events become more extreme and frequent, we will continue to pursue our efforts to ensure that the protection we offer reflects our country's new climate reality and that governments, consumers, businesses and all stakeholders pursue their efforts to better adapt to climate change," CEO Charles Brindamour said when the company posted its third quarter results last November.

While it's still too early to say how much the deep freeze that enveloped much of eastern Canada and the U.S. northeast during the holiday season will cost, the Insurance Bureau of Canada says it's part of a trend of severe weather that shows no sign of slowing down.

The organizations says that weather damages in 2013 cost the industry $3 billion — the largest payout after years of costs in the one to two billion dollar range.

With files from CBC News

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