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Survey shows Canadians do not believe earthquake is imminent


​OCTOBER 14, 2014 (VANCOUVER) – The results of a recent poll to understand consumer attitudes toward earthquake risk show there is a need to both strengthen and raise awareness of the risks.  The poll, commissioned by Insurance Bureau of Canada, shows that Canadians living in the areas most vulnerable to earthquakes don’t believe an earthquake could be imminent; instead, most think the danger is at least 50 years away. ​


“Preparing Canadians for this type of major disaster is a strategic priority for our industry,” said Mary Lou O’Reilly, Senior Vice-President, Issues Management & Communications, IBC. “But before we can help those living in the most vulnerable regions, we need to know what they are thinking. When do people think an earthquake will happen? Are people prepared – both physically and financially – to deal with an earthquake? Do consumers have earthquake insurance? Why or why not? And what are their expectations around insurance coverage?”

Canadians in the main seismic zones, British Columbia and the Ottawa-Montreal-Quebec City corridor, can take steps right now to protect themselves. These steps should include creating an emergency kit and storing it in a safe, accessible location. Families should also practise what to do in the event of an earthquake. “This week’s BC and Quebec ShakeOut events provide great opportunities for practice drills,” added O’Reilly.

The poll, commissioned by IBC, is being released in advance of IBC’s Preparing Canada for an Earthquake: A National Conversation Symposium in Vancouver, which begins tonight.   ​

About the poll​

The poll targeted residents of British Columbia and the Ottawa-Montreal-Quebec City corridor. In the spring of 2014, Pollara Strategic Insights surveyed more than 2,000 residents to determine attitudes about earthquake risk and insurance, and to assess how these attitudes affect the take-up of earthquake insurance in these high-risk zones. With a sample base of this size, the margin of error is plus or minus 2.2%, 19 times out of 20.

Key findings of the poll

Canadians in vulnerable zones see an earthquake as a valid, but far-off possibility.

  • British Columbia residents are concerned about earthquakes but most don’t think an earthquake is likely to hit their area for another 50 years. In the Quebec region, 54% believe that the risk is low, even 50 years from now.

Low perception of risk is a key reason people don’t buy earthquake insurance

  • ​More than two-thirds of respondents said they don’t have earthquake insurance (or don’t know if they have it).
  • Of this group, 70% of the respondents in BC and 91% in the Quebec zone said they never considered buying earthquake coverage mainly because they don’t think an earthquake will strike their area.  Cost is not the number one deterrent.

Canadians over-estimate their financial readiness

  • ​Two-thirds of BC and Quebec respondents feel very confident or somewhat confident that they would be financially prepared if an earthquake hit their area.
  • Yet, only 31% report having earthquake insurance.

Half of all respondents had not even heard of earthquake insurance.

  • Awareness is particularly lacking in the Quebec risk zone.

Canadians believe that their home insurance policies and/or the government will help them recover after an earthquake

  • ​Many consumers mistakenly believe that regular home insurance will help them recover. 
  • Seventy-one percent say they would rely on insurance to cover rebuilding and replacement costs.  Yet, more than two thirds of respondents don’t actually have earthquake insurance
  • Thirty-eight per cent expect that government assistance will help pay for these costs.

“People overestimate their physical and financial preparedness – they are simply not ready,” said O’Reilly. “Equally worrisome is the pervasive belief that the government will step in to cover losses. With the destruction wrought by a major earthquake, its enormous costs and the increasing strain on public resources, the reality is that our governments may not be in the position to pick up the tab.”​


About Insurance Bureau of Canada

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is pleased to celebrate 50 years as a valuable resource for insurance information. Since 1964, IBC has been working with governments across Canada to make our communities safer, championing issues that directly affect Canadians and the property and casualty (P&C) insurance industry. IBC is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, car and business insurers. Its member companies represent 90% of the P&C insurance market in Canada. The private P&C insurance industry employs over 118,600 Canadians, pays more than $7 billion in taxes and levies to the federal, provincial and municipal governments, and has a total premium base of $48 billion.

To view media releases and other information, visit the media section of IBC’s website at ibc.ca. Follow IBC on Twitter @InsuranceBureau or like us on Facebook.​