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Lytton wildfire a reminder for homeowners to check insurance policies

Last Updated Jul 9, 2021 at 10:34 am PDT

90 per cent of the village of Lytton was destroyed by a fast-moving wildfire on June 30, according to the local MP. The community was evacuated that day. (Submitted)
Summary

Basic homeowners insurance covers fire losses, says industry expert

One-time incidents like Lytton wildfire won't lead to premium hike, but overall trend may increase costs

Insurance industry seeing increase in claims due to storms, floods, wildfires

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The tragic losses the people of Lytton will see in what’s left of their hometown Friday are a reminder that we live in a province where wildfires are common. The one piece of positive news for those residents is basic homeowners’ insurance covers fire losses.

Aaron Sutherland with the Insurance Bureau of Canada says it’s important homeowners know exactly what their policies provide, noting the cost of coverage doesn’t need to be a major burden.

“There isn’t anything special that you need to shop around for. If you live in a wildfire zone and you don’t have coverage, I strongly encourage you to reach out to your insurance representative to find out what kind of options are available to you,” Sutherland said.

He encourages homeowners who don’t yet have insurance to look into it right away, especially ahead of what may be a bad wildfire season.

Sutherland says one-time incidents like the Lytton wildfire won’t lead to an increase in premiums.

“However, the trends that we have seen in British Columbia and right across this country in recent years are very, very concerning,” he said.

An increase in claims due to storms, floods, and wildfires are putting pressure on insurers and premiums, according to Sutherland.

“Unfortunately, the trend’s only been going in one direction, and that direction is up. What the industry used to pay out — just a few hundred million dollars annually for those types of events, they’re now paying out on average of over $2 billion,” he explained.

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On Friday, hundreds of evacuees will be on buses taking them through Lytton, more than a week after almost everything was destroyed by fire.

Images of what remains in the wildfire-ravaged community over the past week or so shows the village all but completely scorched. According to the local MP, 90 per cent of Lytton was destroyed. Two people died in the fire, which ripped through the village on June 30, prompting a hasty and urgent evacuation order.