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Preparing for the 2024 Hurricane Season

May 8, 2024 | By: Amanda Dean, Vice-President, Ontario and Atlantic Regions, IBC
Hurricane Protection

Hurricane Fiona, which swept through Atlantic Canada on September 24, 2022, left a large swath of damaged homes, vehicles and businesses. This long-lived, powerful storm made landfall with maximum wind gusts exceeding 100 kilometres an hour in Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec. It resulted in the tragic loss of life as well as torrential rainfall, large waves, storm surges, downed trees and widespread power outages.

While it’s hoped that the region never again experiences a storm of this magnitude, several environmental conditions indicate that the Atlantic coast could be in for a particularly severe hurricane season this year.

Factors influencing the 2024 hurricane season

According to researchers at Colorado State University, record warm tropical and eastern subtropical surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean could result in 11 hurricanes this year, a significant increase to the average of 7.2 hurricanes a year recorded between 1991 and 2020. Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) notes that the research team’s forecast also predicts that five of those hurricanes will be major (having winds of about 180 kilometres per hour or stronger).

A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone that forms over tropical or subtropical waters. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration considers the storm a hurricane when its maximum sustained winds reach 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour.

Warm water, moist air and converging winds are three of the main factors that cause a hurricane to form. Because heat acts as fuel for storms, this year’s warmer water can create bigger and stronger hurricanes. In February 2024, the Weather Network reported that temperatures in one part of the tropical Atlantic Ocean were already as warm as they usually are in the middle of July.

Another factor that could contribute to this year’s hurricane season is the development of La Niña in the eastern Pacific Ocean, which can create conditions favourable for the development of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean.

While these factors are concerning, official hurricane are typically not available until early June.

Prepare and stay safe

As this year’s hurricane season approaches, it’s crucial to stay informed, be prepared and understand the potential risks. All residents of the Atlantic provinces should prepare to minimize the damage to their home and understand what’s covered in their homeowner’s insurance policy. Homeowners should speak to their insurance representative before a hurricane or tropical storm is in the forecast to ensure they have sufficient coverage.

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a hurricane or tropical storm:

  • Create an emergency plan and an emergency kit, and have them ready in case you need to follow emergency evacuation procedures.

  • Move valuable items out of your basement to higher levels in your home.

  • Protect or move property that could be damaged by flying debris.

  • Arrange for someone to check your property if you will be away.

  • Make sure downspouts are clear of debris and positioned to direct water away from your home.

  • Secure any loose patio furniture and barbecues.

  • Don’t operate generators or barbecues anywhere indoors.

  • Protect and/or store your boat.

  • Have a professional remove any at-risk tree branches or other items from your yard that could damage your or other people’s property.

  • Check that your detailed home inventory is up to date.

  • Charge hand-held electronics and have backup power sources available.

  • Be prepared to use battery-operated flashlights, not candles, in a blackout.

What is, and is not, covered in typical home insurance policies

Damage to homes caused by a windstorm or rain is usually covered by insurance, including losses caused by flying debris or fallen trees and/or branches, and losses to your home and its contents from water entering through openings made suddenly by wind or flying debris.

Home insurance and business insurance policies generally do not cover damage caused by the coastal flooding and/or storm surges that typically occur during a hurricane or tropical storm. However, auto insurance covers damage caused by storm surges and wind if you purchased optional comprehensive or all perils coverage.

Many residents affected by Hurricane Fiona lived in high-risk flood areas and flood plains where residential flood insurance coverage is generally not available.  Unfortunately, this meant that many victims of flooding and water damage related to that storm did not have insurance to cover their losses and help them rebuild.

IBC has been working in concert with federal and provincial governments over the past seven years to design a National Flood Insurance Program that suits Canada’s particular geography and housing market. Canada’s P&C insurance industry and the federal government have already begun working to rapidly scale and start delivering the program in 2025. However, the needed conversations between federal and provincial governments have yet to take place. Without the required federal and provincial funding arrangement, Canadians at the highest risk of flooding will not be adequately protected.

Before your policy renews for the year is always a good time to ask questions about what you are and are not covered for. If you experience property damage, speak with your insurance representative as soon as possible. For general insurance questions, call IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC (1-844-227-5422).

About This Author

Amanda is known for her consensus-building leadership and strategic stakeholder engagement. As Vice-President for Insurance Bureau of Canada’s Ontario and Atlantic regions, she advocates and is responsible for eliciting positive change and sound public policy on key priorities for the provinces’ private home, auto and business insurance sector.

Amanda also directs stakeholder and member initiatives and represents member companies’ concerns while collaborating with all orders of government on shared and strategic industry objectives such as sustainable auto insurance, balanced regulation and adaptation to severe weather.

Before joining IBC, Amanda worked closely with the Deputy Premier of Nova Scotia (and former minister responsible for Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal) and the Minister of National Defence. Her responsibilities included communications, issues management and intergovernmental relations.

Amanda holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU), a master’s degree in business administration from Saint Mary’s University and a Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) designation. She is Past Board Chair of Mount Saint Vincent University’s Board of Governors and a member of the Board for the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC). An avid community leader, Amanda has volunteered with Symphony Nova Scotia, has served on the YWCA Halifax Board of Directors, the board of directors of Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response Network (MEOPAR), and has lectured on government relations at MSVU.