Montreal Earthquake Issues Warnings from Insurance Brokers

By: Gary Parkinson on October 11, 2012

Canadians have traditionally been fortunate enough to not have to stress too many thoughts over concerns of earthquakes in our borders.  But the seismic shifts taking place in geographical fault lines beneath the Earth’s surface have opened the door to risks of higher frequency of earthquakes on Canadian soil. Most recently the Greater Montreal felt an earthquake on October 10 that while not expected to cause serious damage, has made many residents concerned and the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) shouting out warnings of vulnerability.

It is not the first known earthquake in the area; seismologists suggest that Montreal and the surrounding areas experience many minor quakes every few days but usually the effects are so minimal they are hardly noticeable.  Many Canadians will remember the earthquake that struck Ottawa only a few years ago that had ripples into Quebec and much of Southern Ontario. Natural Resources Canada suggests the areas between Montreal and Ottawa have up to a 15 percent chance of a major quake in the next 50 years; British Columbia has up to a 30 percent chance with both areas at risk of a major event much sooner.

As a result of these increased quakes the IBC has spoken at the National Insurance Conference of Canada (NICC) in Quebec City to impart the effects of earthquakes on housing and insurance coverage across the country. Working together with the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, the IBC is warning that infrastructure is not always built to withstand earthquakes particularly in the east where many buildings are older. Both organizations warn Quebecers and all Canadians to begin speaking with their home insurance providers about earthquake coverage to ensure proper protection in the event of the worst case scenario.

Glenn McGillivray of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction says that earthquakes like these tend to spur a call to action by residents and insurance brokers to take the matter seriously but the issue usually fades as the effects return to normal; he says that needs to change.

“It’s got to be a broad, concerted effort.”

The IBC indicates not many Quebecers have chosen to get earthquake insurance but believes for the sake of people’s homes, the insurance industry, and the whole Canadian economy; Quebec must follow the footsteps of B.C. where roughly 50 percent of residents are covered for earthquakes.