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Feature - Fun at a premium

Insurance industry woes put the squeeze on adventure activities

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In addition, we’ve had to weather a SARS outbreak, the Mad Cow scare, recurring droughts in the prairies, wildfires in the north and west, floods and ice storms in the east, growing unemployment, growing personal debts and more.

According to Business in Vancouver Magazine, homebuilders in Vancouver have seen their insurance premiums triple from 2002 to 2003, partly because of an increase in construction site thefts, and partly because the industry risks have been reassessed by insurance companies in the wake of the leaky condo fiasco.

Automobile insurance rates in Ontario, Alberta and Atlantic Canada have increased by an average of 20 per cent over the last year alone, according to the National Post. Although the roads are statistically safer, with fewer injuries and deaths, more injury claims are being filed, and the cost of honouring those claims, including personal injury and medical expenses, has increased significantly.

Insurance rates for bush pilots based in the northern provinces and territories have doubled recently, raising the cost of everything from food to transportation for resident and tourists in Canada’s remote communities.

Across Canada, approximately one-third of small and medium-sized business owners say they have been negatively impacted by rising insurance rates or by the complete elimination of their coverage because of risks in the last few years, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

For Whistler, a town that was literally built by risk takers and risk seekers, the rising costs of insurance have been astronomical. Some companies in the adventure and recreation industries have seen their insurance premiums grow by as much at 300 per cent in recent years.

With business already off for the resort this season, the higher insurance rates couldn’t have come at a worse time. Some businesses have absorbed the higher rates, while others have had to pass on a portion of the extra fees to customers.

Is there any relief in sight?

Some form of relief should be experienced when the insurance market starts to get competitive again, and starts insuring activities that are perceived to be dangerous. It’s yet to be seen when that might happen, or what relief might look like.

Meanwhile…

Taming the insurance river

Whistler River Adventures has been operating in Whistler for 20 years, and owner/operator Brian Leighton has never seen anything like it. In the last three years his insurance rates have doubled. Still, he considers himself fortunate to be able to find any insurance at all in today’s market.

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