A family living near the shore of Harrison Lake is grateful they weren’t injured when a mudslide roared across their property at the height of last weekend’s intense rainstorm – but they were disappointed to learn their homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover the cost of cleanup and repairs.
Mervyn Thomas said it was around 5:30 Sunday evening when the slide came down.
“It sounded like a freight train coming through my living room,” he said. “Just rocks crushing and trees snapping and the cracking of the trees is all I could hear. I have never felt that fear for my life, ever. I thought, This is the way I’m going out.”
The slide destroyed two vehicles and a boat, wiped out the carport, damaged portions of the main house and buried the yard under six feet of trees, boulders and mud.
Thomas said ICBC will pay out for the damaged vehicles, but he was dismayed to learn homeowner’s insurance in Canada doesn’t cover landslides – a phenomenon he never imagined could even happen on his property.
“And then when it does, and you find out you don’t have insurance, it’s actually heart-breaking,” he said.
According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, landslide insurance is not something that is even available to homeowners.
“In those cases, if insurance coverage is not available, there are government supports that were announced recently and we encourage people to be exploring those options and to start that application process,” the IBC’s Rob De Pruis said.
The province announced a disaster financial assistance plan this week, which will cover 80 per cent of eligible damage costs up to $300,000 for properties damaged in the storm.
In February 2020, a different atmospheric river dropped more than 100 millimetres of rain in the area, wiping out a kilometre-long section of Rockwell Drive near Thomas’s home, and forcing evacuations.
With so many severe weather events happening in B.C. over the last couple of years, Thomas worries it’s only a matter of time until something similar happens again.
“I’m really concerned about the climate change. We had all the forest fires in the summer, the extreme heat, and now extreme rain,” he said. “It just seems like all the weather has changed and everything is going to the extreme now.”
He estimates cleanup and repairs on his property could cost about $50,000 and he’s not sure yet how much of that might be eligible for coverage under the province’s disaster assistance plan.