Flood Insurance in Canada: Implications for Flood Management and Residential Vulnerability to Flood Hazards

Abstract

Insurance coverage of damage caused by overland flooding is currently not available to Canadian homeowners. As flood disaster losses and water damage claims both trend upward, insurers in Canada are considering offering residential flood coverage in order to properly underwrite the risk and extend their business. If private flood insurance is introduced in Canada, it will have implications for the current regime of public flood management and for residential vulnerability to flood hazards. This paper engages many of the competing issues surrounding the privatization of flood risk by addressing questions about whether flood insurance can be an effective tool in limiting exposure to the hazard and how it would exacerbate already unequal vulnerability. A case study investigates willingness to pay for flood insurance among residents in Metro Vancouver and how attitudes about insurance relate to other factors that determine residential vulnerability to flood hazards. Findings indicate that demand for flood insurance is part of a complex, dialectical set of determinants of vulnerability.

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Acknowledgments

I would like to acknowledge the influence that Paul Kovacs, Dan Shrubsole, and Gordon McBean had on my thinking about this topic. Any views expressed in the article, however, are my own. This study was conducted as a part of the Coastal Cities at Risk project, funded by Canada’s International Research Initiative on Adaptation to Climate Change. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada also provided funding. I thank Editor Rebecca Efroymson and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on the earlier drafts of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Greg Oulahen.

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Oulahen, G. Flood Insurance in Canada: Implications for Flood Management and Residential Vulnerability to Flood Hazards. Environmental Management 55, 603–615 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-014-0416-6

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Keywords

  • Flood
  • Insurance
  • Flood management
  • Vulnerability
  • Hazard
  • Metro Vancouver