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Southern Alberta Flooding: Brokers in Action
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July 4, 2013

The devastation in Southern Alberta is indescribable. As CEO George Hodgson and I toured the flood-ravaged areas last Wednesday and Thursday, we were in many cases left speechless. Seeing it on TV is one thing—live, the enormity of it all and the power of nature is overwhelming.

As an association, we needed to have some “boots on the ground” so to speak, to provide support to our member brokers, understand the magnitude of the devastation, and find out how we can help our member brokers and their clients.

Flood Supplies with Bipper StickersWe took a pick up truck full of bottled water, Bipper blankets, and cleaning supplies—a small amount given the vastness of the tragedy, but, as the saying goes, every little bit helps. We delivered these supplies to brokers who could use them however they were most needed (e.g., for staff, clients, or their offices). Most identified their local disaster response centres as in dire need and delivered the supplies directly.

The brokers we met with were extremely grateful that the association had called every member broker in the affected areas to find out what if any damages their offices had sustained and what help the association could provide. They were also very appreciative that IBAA came to meet with them in a time of crisis to offer help. As an association, IBAA should be expected to come forth to support members during a crisis—as brokers, it’s what we do, and generally speaking, it’s the right thing to do.

Not surprisingly, the brokers we visited with were extremely resilient, focusing on their client’s needs. When we asked what the association could do to help, we received a variety of answers identifying some common points:
  • Backup assistance provided by the IBAA office to help brokers and clients with calls and info was greatly appreciated
  • Additional assistance with disaster recovery information (see DRP Update, July 4, 2013)
  • IBAA could provide a business continuity plan to help members
  • Education on business continuity so members can plan for their own brokerages
  • Advocacy efforts for flood insurance
  • Efforts to establish a facility pool for flood coverage—this is one of the key Property Insurance Policy Statements that was approved at this year’s AGM
  • Templates for what brokers should provide to clients during a disaster—where to find information and a list of “to do”s
  • Information on the banking industry’s approach when a home is destroyed by flood, land is swept away, and mortgages are carried—when do banks “write off” the mortgage and what are client options?
IBAA is currently evaluating and working on these and other items.

Of particular note, George and I also were also invited by Intact to meet with Charles Brindamour, President of Intact Financial, to receive an update on Intact’s disaster management. Charles had spent the previous afternoon and that morning working in the field with an adjuster, visiting their clients in flood-damaged homes to help process claims. This is a perfect example that, as business people and as individuals, we should never be “too big” to help a client. For the President of Intact Financial, this relationship ensures staying grounded and in touch with an end-user client when the product becomes tangible.

During our meeting with Charles, we clearly expressed the purpose of IBAA’s Property Insurance Forum to be held on September 12 and include concerns surrounding increasing peril deductibles such as sewer backup, wind, and hail. What happens when the single mother of two has a sewer backup and can’t pay the $2500 deductible required to begin the restoration process?

We also expressed IBAA’s position: we believe the time has come to address flooding as part of the personal property insurance product. According to CBC National News, Canada is one of three industrialized nations in which personal insurance markets do not provide this cover. Furthermore, the issue is convoluted given the fact flood coverage is available optionally on commercial policies. The traditional reasoning that “flood insurance is not offered because the only people that would buy it are those in flood plains” seems flawed in its logic. Insurance is designed to pay the losses suffered by the few with the premiums paid by the many. Logic would dictate flooding be added to all personal property policies, and paid for by all—perhaps subject to territorial rating for flood zones.

Our two-day trip was certainly an eye opener in terms of the devastating effects of the flood, the resiliency of our member brokers, and the compassion shown by just about everyone.

Thank you to our affected member brokers for representing our distribution channel so finely during this time of crisis, thanks to the unaffected brokers for their outpouring of support, and thank you to IBAA office staff and management for their extra efforts supporting members during this time.

Gord Enders
President, Insurance Brokers Association of Alberta
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