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Property insurer rolls out pilot program for homes threatened by wildfire in BC and Alberta

As the 2024 wildfire season kicks off in BC and Alberta, an insurance provider is offering a pilot program that includes wildfire loss prevention and suppression services.

In a statement, Intact Financial Corporation announced that it is partnering with a company called Wildfire Defense Systems (WDS) to launch a pilot project providing eligible customers in the two provinces, which both have seen devastating wildfire seasons.

So far this year, BC has seen 157 wildfires. Yesterday, the town of Fort Nelson and the surrounding area was evacuated due to the Parker Lake fire, which was discovered on May 10 and has grown to 5,280 hectares.

<who>Photo credit: WDS

The 2023 wildfire season is considered to be the most destructive in BC’s history. Fueled by a carryover of severe drought conditions in the tailend of 2022, last summer the province saw over two million hectares of forest and land burn.

Two severe fires in the Okanagan and Shuswap—the McDougall Creek and Bush Creek East wildfires—are also considered the most costly insured event in the province’s history, totalling $720 million in damage.

In response to worsening wildfire seasons, Intact is partnering with WDS to deploy loss prevention and suppression services to customers when their property is threatened by a wildfire that is less than five kilometres away.

<who>Photo Credit: BCWS/ The Donnie Creek wildfire was finally held at just over 619,000 hectares.

Among the services being offered, WDS will remove materials from around your property that may fuel a fire, cover exterior vents, doors, windows and garage doors to prevent embers from entering, and set up temporary sprinkler systems.

And, the company says that once the threat is gone, the crew will return to the property to check on it and remove sprinklers and/or coverings.

WDS explains that they are “supplemental” to all other public wildfire responders and that they work with local authorities to safely access insured properties. They do also note that there is no guarantee that homes will be serviced, or that their services will fully prevent wildfire damage.

When asked about the pilot program The Ministry of Forests in BC said that the last few years have seen some of the worst wildfire season on record.

"We know how incredibly difficult it was for everyone in those areas," the ministry told NowMedia. "Our top priority is keeping people safe, especially as we see longer wildfire seasons due to climate change causing drier and hotter summers."

The BC Wildfire Service is also aware of the program, and "looks forward to learning more from the company about their model."

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