The extreme weather witnessed this winter may present more than just physical problems for homeowners. The frigid temperatures brought on by the polar vortex have negatively affected many properties across North America. Countless downed trees, prolonged power outages, and frozen everything have contributed to a difficult few weeks. Winter is already considered to be the harshest season on homes, as its freeze/thaw cycles can cause significant amounts of damage.
Unfortunately this could translate into future headaches for homeowners - not all of them related to how their home and its systems are performing. Global News is reporting that home insurance premiums will likely be going up as a result of the ice storm. They warn that “homeowners 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.”*
In fact, some insurance companies have already begun to change their policies based on recent events and the claims homeowners have made as a result. “Intact Financial Corp…one of Canada’s largest property and casualty insurers, raised premiums by 10 to 20 per cent during the past few months as catastrophic losses and weather-related claims have risen.”*
Reflecting on the extreme storms Canada has suffered through 2013, from the flash-flooding in July to December’s ice, Intact Financial Corp. spokesman Gilles Gratton posits, “…the impacts of climate change coupled with urban growth, aging municipal infrastructure and the greater prevalence of finished basements are posing new challenges to the industry.”*
Data from the Insurance Bureau of Canada suggested that it’s possible this weather-driven shift in premiums, pricing and coverage has been a long time coming. They reported “the amount of insured damage resulting from extreme weather in Canada grew from less than $200 million in 2006 to $1.2 billion in 2012.”*
What Does This Mean For Homeowners?
While there is little you can do in the face of high insurance premiums, especially when this price increase is a national trend, there are other ways you can limit the financial toll that extreme weather can take. Lessening the potential for damage through regular maintenance and upkeep can help you, your home, (and your wallet), in the long run. When it comes to extreme weather and protecting your property, preparation is key.
We have several articles that relate to home maintenance in winter. Check them out and see how your own maintenance routine and knowledge compares.In addition, it's important to make sure you and your family are ready for an emergency. The Government of Canada’s Get Prepared Website is a great resource. With information on how to plan and create a survival kit this website is a valuable tool for every homeowner.