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A Moral Imperative

July 2013 Editorial

The flooding in Southern Alberta will likely prove to be the most significant insurance event in Canadian history. For a recap and all the statistics, you can visit citopbroker.com. My more urgent purpose here is to rally anyone who will listen to join me in calling on all corners of our industry and pressing all levels of government to solve the problem of making overland flood insurable for all Canadian homeowners as quickly as possible. And by quickly, I don’t mean at some unknown time years in the future, hidden in a fog of bureaucratic and political miasma. I mean now. Today. In time for the 2014 spring flood season.

I know how naive this demand sounds and the derisive dismissal it will invite. No matter. I make it because I believe it is the only appropriate response to the incredible tragedy that has befallen the thousands of Albertans whose lives have been upended by the flooding, and who have no recourse to insurance to make them whole again. Virtually every resident of High River, for example, has incurred wrenching emotional and financial losses from which many may never be able to recover. I believe this is a wholly unacceptable state of affairs in Canadian society, and that even the slightest delay in rectifying it so that it never happens to anyone else is nothing less than a moral failure.

Unfortunately, popular sentiment around the concept of a countrywide overland flood program is defined by selfish denial. “Why should I have to subsidize you because you choose to live on a flood plane?” is what it reduces to. One reason is because that is simply the nature of pooled risk sharing. If every driver on the road, however reckless or careful, can be compelled to purchase liability insurance, then every mortgage holder can pay to ensure that all Canadian homeowners have the same security against flood just as our healthcare system provides security through paying for medical treatment. It only requires the political will to make it so.

Secondly, the Alberta flooding and Superstorm Sandy amply demonstrate that there is no such thing as a low-risk area for flood any longer. This is everybody’s problem now, and anyone who believes otherwise is ignoring overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Our industry is not an ostrich. We must do as much as we can, as fast as we can, to solve this. There is no morally defensible alternative.

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Copyright 2013 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the July 2013 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine

Transcontinental Media G.P.