Flood Risk & Homeowner Awareness

Canadian Voices on Changing Flood Risk: Findings from a National Survey cover photo

Extreme weather events, such as heavy rain and flooding, are happening more frequently across the country. Although the risk of floods may be on the rise, risk awareness from homeowners seems to be at a standstill. We surveyed 2,300 Canadians from across the country who live in designated flood risk areas, and found that, in general, Canadians are not aware of their flood risks and are unprepared for flooding events. The survey results shine light on this lack of risk awareness and stress the importance of developing better flood management policy in Canada.

What did we learn?

  • Due to rising costs, the federal and provincial governments are finding ways to reduce flood risks and share responsibility for protection and recovery with Canadian homeowners.
  • Canadians are ready to take on a greater role in flood protection — 83% believe that homeowners are responsible for personal protection.
  • Despite this sense of duty, less than 30% of Canadians are taking actions to protect their property from flooding and show limited interest in flood insurance.
  • This inaction is a result of a gap in flood risk awareness. Only 6% know they live in a designated flood risk area, and only 21% believe that the risk of flooding will increase over the next 25 years.
  • Canadians need and want more information to be actively engaged in flood management and protected from flood risks. There is a major opportunity for transparent information sharing.
  • Over 90% of homeowners think that flood maps should be made publicly available, sellers of property should be required to disclose flood risk, and property owners should be notified if their home is located in a flood risk area.

What do we recommend? 

  1. Governments must inform Canadians about what is expected of them, what could happen to them if a flood occurs, and which actions are best for their home.
  2. A national flood risk strategy should be developed that encourages property-level flood protection by communicating the risks of flooding for homeowners through publicly available flood risk maps and disclosure during real estate transactions.
  3. Governments, insurers and homeowners should work together to develop policies that ensure insurance is available by sharing financial responsibility for flood damage in high risk areas.

What next?

Collaborative communication and education is needed to effectively fill the gap in risk awareness, correct confusion over flood protection and recovery, and ensure that homeowners are better prepared and informed about the impacts of floods. Knowledge leads to action, and with better education, communication, and flood-related information, homeowners will gain a better understanding about their role in managing flood risk in their communities.

Know your risks! FloodSmart Canada is helping Canadians prepare for floods. To learn more visit, FloodSmartCanada.ca.

In the Media:

Blacklock’s Reporter, May 2017: ‘Alarming’ Study On Floods

Canadian Geographic, May 2017: Study finds majority of Canadians who live in high-risk flood zones don't know it

Canadian Underwriter, May 2017: Majority of polled Canadians unaware of flood risks and responsibilities, half would not consider purchasing overland flood coverage: survey

CBC News Politics, May 2017: One way to battle future flooding: stop building on flood plains, say experts

CBC News Toronto , May 2017: Quebec enlists Canadian Forces in fight against rising floodwaters

CBC News Toronto, May 2017: Why your insurance likely won't protect you if your basement floods

CBC Radio Ottawa, May 2017: Flood planning

CBC The Current, May 2017: Canadian homeowners in the dark about flood risks, study suggests

City News, May 2017: Many insurance policies don't cover flooding, and homeowners could be on hook

CJAD 800, May 2017: The Nightside with Jon Pole: Flood Risk - How You Can Protect Your Home in the Future with Shawna Peddle

Le Devoir, May 2017: Où ne pas reconstruire au juste?

Exchange Magazine, May 2017: National survey shows most Canadians in high-risk areas for floods unaware

Global News BC, May 2017 - Insurance claims increase due to flooding in the Okanagan

The Globe & Mail, May 2017: Majority of Canadian homeowners not insured for flooding: experts

The Globe and Mail, May 2017: Canadians are in the dark about flood risk

The Globe and Mail, May 2017: Globe editorial: The floodwaters are rising in Canada. When will Ottawa finally deal with it?

The Globe and Mail, May 2017: Quebec floods recede but competing demands fill prevention debate

Guelph Mercury Tribune, May 2017: Homeowners could be on hook for flood costs

Insurance Business Canada Magazine, May 2017:  Canadians don’t understand flood risk – Expert

Insurance Business Canada, May 2017: Everyone is getting flooded and no-one knows about flood insurance

Le journal de l’assurance, May 2017: Inondations : 9 Canadiens sur 10 ignorent vivre dans une zone à risque

Montreal Gazette, May 2017: Opinion: Four steps governments should take on flood management

MyMcMurray, May 2017: Many insurance policies don't cover flooding, and homeowners could be on hook

Nanaimo News Now, May 2017: Many insurance policies don't cover flooding, and homeowners could be on hook

National Post, May 2017: Federal government cutting back on disaster assistance as floods become more severe

Penticton Herald, May 2017: Many insurance policies don't cover flooding, and homeowners could be on hook

La Presse, May 2017: Inondations: «On n'a même pas le plan d'avoir un plan»

PreventionWeb, May 2017: Canadian voices on changing flood risk

Times Colonist, May 2017: Many insurance policies don't cover flooding, and homeowners could be on hook

Toronto Sun, May 2017: Homeowners could be on hook for flooding: Insurance experts

The Weather Network, April 2017: Flood How to Stay Safe

Additional Radio and Television:

  • Calgary AM Radio 710, May 12th, 2017
  • CBC Montreal, May 11th, 2017
  • CBC Montreal, May 11th, 2017
  • CBC Montreal, May 10th, 2017
  • CBC News Kitchener-Waterloo, May 8th, 2017
  • CBC News Network, May 6th, 2017
  • CBC Ontario Today, May 8th, 2017
  • CBC Ottawa, May 11th, 2017
  • CBC Quebec, May 11th, 2017
  • CBC The National, May 9th, 2017
  • CTV News Network, May 10th, 2017
  • Global National Calgary and Toronto, May 9th, 2017
  • Global News, May 5th, 2017
  • 610CKTB St. Catharines, May 11th, 2017