Are home insurance rates affected by weather events?
Colleen Schmidt, CTV Calgary
Published Tuesday, March 11, 2014 5:48PM MDT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 11, 2014 6:32PM MDT
A number of Calgarians have noticed an increase in their home insurance and believe it is all connected to the flood last June that cost the city and home owners millions in damages.
Jason Van Dorp expected his home insurance to go up a little because of Alberta's inclement weather this past year but he didn't expect a 23 percent increase.
Van Dorp says he has never filed a claim so the increase came as a surprise. "Yeah claim-free it's kind of more of a shock,” said Van Dorp.
CTV Calgary Consumer Specialist Lea Williams-Doherty looked into the claims and spotted another oddity on this year's bill.
Each of the weather-related risks, like hail, wind, water and sewer back up, are broken out from the general policy and now each have individual premiums and deductibles.
Lea also noticed that most of the new deductibles have increased by about 2.5 times compared to the old ones that used to apply to every type of claim.
"Wondering maybe, if it's just my insurance company or if it's across Alberta, so it's led to me actually leaning to shopping around to see if I can get a better rate this year," said Van Dorp.
Van Dorp checked with his neighbours and was floored to learn many of their rates for home insurance did not increase like his did. "Like you'd think with the insurance companies that they'd all be on the same page, set standards the exact same, but it doesn't seem that way."
Lea asked the Insurance Bureau of Canada, why the rates of some claims-free Calgarians have gone up substantially while others have not?
"Some companies have been impacted much more than others and in instances like that, they're going to need to make changes that could result in higher premiums than a competitor might be forced to charge based on their claims experience,” said Bill Adams from the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
Lea says that means it makes a difference which of Alberta's 125 insurance companies writes your policy.
She also asked whether last June's flood is to blame for rate increases.
"Used to be that claims for weather related damages in Canada hovered at $300 million a year, that was just a decade or 15 years ago. What we've seen in each of the last five years, it's been well over $1 billion and in 2013 it was well over $3 billion and of course the single largest one was the flooding in southern Alberta so it's unprecedented," said Adams.
Adams says the flood was the single costliest weather event for Canadian insurance companies but it was just the last in a chain of severe events in Alberta.
Lea says the changes were coming but the flood just hastened them and if you are facing a big increase to shop around and compare rates.
Adams says rates are currently all over the map and that some companies paid out a lot of weather claims recently while others did not.
He says that it is a competitive business so the ones that didn't pay out a lot are in a better position to offer comparatively lower rates to get more customers.
Lea says this new "break out" of different weather risks, with separate premiums and deductibles, is becoming the new norm but some people might still see those deductibles adjusted up or down based on risk tolerance.
(With files from Lea Williams-Doherty)