ICLR lays out the next five years of hazard research

0 December 15, 2016 at 10:25 am by

looking-aheadICLR has just released its latest five-year plan, which sets out the Institute’s research and engagement strategy for the period 2017 through 2021.

Over the plan period, ICLR will continue to focus on providing research that supports action by public and private sector decision-makers working to reduce the risk of loss and damage due to natural hazards.

The plan, previously centred around four hazards (water, earthquake, severe wind and wildfire) now includes a fifth hazard (hail).

Over the next five years, the institute will address four priority issues:

  • Guide actions to reduce the risk of basement flooding
  • Champion the construction of disaster-resilient homes
  • Support efforts to enhance the resilience of existing homes
  • Identify options to expand the role of private insurance.

Each year Canadians experience a significant amount of damage to their homes from basement flooding. Most water damage is preventable through a combination of lot-level action by property owners and investments by local governments. Over the past decade, ICLR has established itself as the leading authority on basement flood risk reduction. Over the next five years, ICLR will maintain its leadership in risk reduction research while increasingly focusing on sharing our findings to support investments by local officials and actions taken by property owners.

ICLR, in partnership with the Insurance Bureau of Canada, seeks to promote the construction of new buildings that are resilient to damage from natural hazards. The Institute is the only organization in Canada that has identified specific changes in home design and construction that would reduce the risk of damage from hazards that include water, severe wind, and wildfire. We seek to inform homebuilders, building owners, and building code officials that little or no cost changes during initial construction have the potential to significantly enhance disaster-resilience. ICLR will work with homebuilders and building owners to inform them about the benefits of change, with local governments to establish local by-laws and regulations to guide new development, and with federal and provincial building code officials.

The poor record of many Canadians caring for their homes increases the risk of damage from hazards, but also provides an opportunity to promote investments in resilience. Over the next five years, the Institute will continue to develop its outreach program for existing homeowners. This will include our Showcase homes program where homes and buildings in more than a dozen communities across Canada have been retrofitted to reduce the risk of damage from local hazards. ICLR also provides homeowners with self-assessment tools to measure their risk of damage from basement flooding, earthquakes, severe wind, winter storm, and wildfire.

ICLR estimates that about 40 percent of the disaster damage in Canada since 1980 was covered by private insurance. Some of the residual losses, particularly residential flood damage, were covered by disaster assistance programs, while the remaining losses were not covered. The Insurance Bureau of Canada is addressing some issues through its government relations and consumer relations efforts, including residential flood and earthquake coverage. Research by the Institute would seek to complement this work and may assess issues like the information needed to extend the emerging residential flood insurance coverage to also include coastal hazards, understanding why so few Canadians purchase earthquake insurance in Eastern Canada, exploring why governments do not insure public infrastructure, and a comparison of the role of private insurance for disaster management in Canada relative to that in other countries. The Institute would focus on research to assess the potential for a greater role for private insurance to support the management of disaster risk in Canada.

Across each of these four elements, ICLR will work to increase the efforts of Canadians to protect themselves from the risk of loss due to natural hazards. In particular, the Institute will work to develop a comprehensive tool to help homeowners measure their risk of damage, and provide advice on best practices for risk reduction.

The effective management of the risk of loss from severe weather, flooding, and earthquake will be a critical issue for the insurance industry and governments across Canada over the next five years.

ICLR has established itself as centre of excellence and a valued source of knowledge about best practices for risk reduction. The Institute’s strategic plan sets out an ambitious research and engagement program for the next five years, a program that ICLR is confident it can successfully complete given its performance over its first 19-plus years.

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