Insurance rate hikes likely in B.C., Alberta in wake of floods, fires

If you live in Western Canada, your home insurance rates are likely going up again soon, a top industry official says.

Insurers look at trends over time to set rates, IBC says

Wildfire evacuees McLean Rislund, 80, and June Rislund, 81, from Forest Grove near 100 Mile House, walk to an evacuation registration centre in Kamloops, B.C. on Monday. So far, more than 14,000 people have been affected by evacuations province-wide due to fire. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

If you live in Western Canada, your home insurance rates are likely going up again soon, a top industry official says.

Insurers set their rates by region, looking at patterns in that area over time.

Given that B.C. and Alberta have been hit with repeat fires and floods in recent years, the Insurance Bureau of Canada said it's almost certain rates will be hiked.

"No single event can be attributed to climate change, but the fact we're having increasing severe weather events across Canada fits with the predictive model — the probability of future events is now higher," said Craig Stewart, vice president of federal affairs.

"You can expect that rates will start to rise."

Nevaeh Porter, 8, looks over the remains of her home where she lived with her mom and grandparents. It was destroyed by wildfire on the Ashcroft First Nation in early July.

Within the past week, more than 14,000 British Columbians have been forced from their homes by wildfire. Homes and businesses have been lost, including entire communities.

In June, much of the province's Interior was hit hard by flooding. There were evacuations then, too.

Disasters like those have cost insurers billions of dollars in claims to homeowners who have lost homes and property as of late. The massive wildfire in Fort McMurray cost companies more than $3.5 billion alone.

Stewart said it will be months before the total cost of the losses in B.C. will be tallied. But going forward, he thinks officials can do more to help residents protect themselves.

Generally, when it comes to flood or fire danger, Stewart said many are more at risk than they think. 

"If you're living in tinder-dry forested area, you could be taking better measures to protect yourself — from the shingles on your roof to not stacking firewood near your house," he said.

"We need to go a much better job of raising awareness and then providing incentives [for preparedness] ... and we need better coordination between our agencies and the governments for that."

As for just how high insurance rates will rise in wake of the fires, Stewart said that's up to individual insurance companies and "tough to predict."

Those with questions about insurance in wake of the B.C. wildfires can call the IBC at 1-844-2ask-IBC or email

With files from Deborah Goble and the Canadian Press