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BC residents encouraged to prepare for the 2024 wildfire season

Insurance experts share tips to stay safe and protect your property

Mar 18, 2024 | BC
BC residents encouraged to prepare for the 2024 wildfire season

With government officials and other experts warning that 2024 could pose significant wildfire risk, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is encouraging BC residents to be prepared for some potentially difficult months ahead.

“As reported by the BC Wildfire Service, there are more than 90 active wildfires across the province, with many still burning from last year’s record-breaking season,” said Rob de Pruis, National Director, Consumer and Industry Relations, IBC. “The 2023 wildfire season was the most destructive in British Columbia’s history, and 2024 has the potential to be another intense wildfire year. Last year, fires started very early in the spring, spread extremely quickly and kept emergency responders busy throughout the summer. More than 2.84 million hectares burned, and thousands of people in affected areas had only a short time to evacuate. Sadly, six wildfire personnel lost their lives, and hundreds of homes were destroyed or damaged.”

As of March 1, the provincial snowpack remains very low, averaging 34% below normal across BC. Nearly half of the province’s 34 water basins were severely depleted due to warmer temperatures and a lack of precipitation, further elevating concerns for this wildfire season. Current information about the forest fire danger, forest fire activity and fire restrictions across the province can be found on the BC Wildfire Service’s webpage. Residents can also access the BC Wildfire Service’s Wildfire Situation App for real-time information on active fires, current fire danger across the province, and restricted fire zones in effect.

“IBC is urging BC residents to stay alert and follow the advice of local authorities when it comes to fire bans,” added de Pruis. “In the event that you are evacuated, make sure you plan as you could be out of your home for more than one or two days. Last year, many individuals and families were displaced for several days or longer.”

Wildfires are a real and present danger, especially if you live in a heavily forested area. However, there are steps you can take to help protect your family, your home or your business.

All standard home, tenant and business insurance policies cover damage caused by wildfire. Most policies also cover additional living expenses, such as for hotels or other accommodation, if you are evacuated. During major weather events or wildfires, insurance companies may initiate temporary limitations on the sale of new policies in areas under imminent threat. Therefore, ensure you have the right coverage well in advance of a potential severe weather event or wildfire.

BC residents with general questions about their home, business or tenant’s insurance policies are encouraged to contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC (1-844-227-5422) or visit

Protect your home before and during wildfire season with these 10 tips from IBC

Ways to be prepared year-round:

1. Install and regularly maintain smoke and CO alarms in your home. Remove dust from your alarms, replace batteries when the clocks change in spring and fall, test alarms regularly and replace them at least every 10 years.

2. Create an emergency preparedness plan and a disaster safety kit for your family. Develop a fire evacuation plan, practise it and stick to it in an emergency. Also, prepare a basic kit of food, water and other necessities in case of evacuation

3. Keep your insurance policy number and insurance company claims department phone number with you. If your home is damaged or you are evacuated, you will be able to contact your insurer more easily to start the claims process. Review and understand what coverage you have, and how your policy will respond if a wildfire affects you.

Actions you can take now, particularly if you live near a forest or wooded area:

4. Prepare your home. Check that your home’s roof and exterior walls and the undersides of balconies are treated with flame-resistant materials.

5. Properly store flammable materials. Store gasoline, solvents or other materials that may ignite, at least 10 metres away from your home.

6. Remove dry leaves and debris. Keep leaves, other dry materials and potentially flammable garbage away from the exterior of the house, especially if you have wood or vinyl siding.

7. Manage space around your home. Remove combustible material such as shrubs, trees and woodpiles within 10 metres of your home.

8. Read these valuable resources from FireSmart Canada for in-depth information about wildfire resilience and steps you can take to minimize wildfire risk

How to reduce your risk when wildfire season is in full swing:

9. Stay informed about the weather. Be sure to monitor local and provincial information sources for fire bans and warnings.

10. Pay attention to fire danger ratings. Take note of and obey fire bans and restrictions to know the likelihood of, and prevent, wildfire igniting in your region. Check your local government's website for more information.

As reported by IBC earlier this year, severe weather in 2023 caused over $3.1 billion in insured damage across Canada. IBC is continuing to engage with the federal and provincial governments on ways to improve the climate resilience of communities across the country. Insured losses related to severe weather in Canada now routinely exceed $2 billion annually. By comparison, between 2001 and 2010, Canadian insurers averaged $675 million a year in losses related to severe weather.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada

Established in 1964, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies make up the vast majority of Canada’s highly competitive property and casualty (P&C) insurance market.

As the leading advocate for Canada’s private P&C insurers, IBC collaborates with governments, regulators and stakeholders to support a competitive environment for the P&C insurance industry to continue to help protect Canadians from the risks of today and tomorrow.

IBC believes that Canadians value and deserve a responsive and resilient private P&C insurance industry that provides insurance solutions to both individuals and businesses.

For media releases, IN Focus articles, or to book an interview with an IBC representative, visit Follow us on LinkedIn, X and Instagram, and like us on Facebook. If you have a question about home, auto or business insurance, contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC. We’re here to help.