As climate change erodes coastlines, industry looking again at storm insurance

Properties on P.E.I.’s North Shore took the brunt of post-tropical storm Fiona’s battering last month, and where the sea rose up and swept things away owners are finding they were not insured.

‘Coastal flood coverage is incredibly complex’

Top floor of cottage on road.
The Hebrides cottage development was devastated by Fiona, with several buildings entirely washed away. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Properties on P.E.I.'s North Shore took the brunt of post-tropical storm Fiona's battering last month, and where the sea rose up and swept things away, many owners are finding they were not insured.

It's called a storm surge. Winds driving water onshore combine with a high tide to raise the sea well above normal levels. Surges of more than two metres were measured in several locations during Fiona. These surges combined with metres-high waves to wreak havoc on the shore.

It's a risk for all coastal properties, but climate change has made it difficult to put a price on that risk, making storm surge insurance rare.

"With our fast-changing climate leading to rising sea levels and eroding coastlines, these things are all happening rather quickly," Amanda Dean, vice-president of the Atlantic region for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, told Island Morning host Laura Chapin.

"The risk modelling required by insurers to develop prices for coastal flood coverage is incredibly complex."

Research to create the necessary models for storm surge coverage continues, said Dean.

"There have also been conversations ongoing with government in terms of a public-private insurance program for overland flooding that would include storm surge and coastal flooding," said Dean.

"Industry is certainly eager to get back to the table with those conversations."

Many water-related risks associated with hurricanes and storms can be covered, including sewer backup, water pooling from heavy rains, and roof damage that lets water into a building. Some of these coverages are not standard, and concerned property owners should check with their insurance representatives to ensure they are covered, said Dean.


Kevin Yarr is the early morning web journalist at CBC P.E.I. Kevin has a specialty in data journalism, and how statistics relate to the changing lives of Islanders. He has a BSc and a BA from Dalhousie University, and studied journalism at Holland College in Charlottetown. You can reach him at

With files from Laura Chapin


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