Insurance brokers association takes on natural disasters with ‘The Big If’

Who: The Insurance Brokers Association of Canada (IBAC) and Agency59.

What: “The Big If” (“Si Jamais” in French), a new IBAC campaign outlining the risks that overland flooding and earthquakes pose to Canadian homeowners. The IBAC is treating it as a distinct sub-brand (see below).

When & Where: The digital and out-of-home campaign breaks July 15 and runs through October. The out-of-home elements will include TSAs, digital boards and standard billboards. There is also a dedicated website,

Screen shot 2019-07-12 at 11.53.17 AM.png

Why: Water levels are rising across the country, leading to the type of catastrophic flooding we’ve already witnessed in New Brunswick and Manitoba. While less of a threat, earthquakes are also relatively commonplace in Canada.

The goal of “The Big If” is to make Canadian homeowners aware of the risks posed by these natural disasters and encourage them to contact an insurance broker about how they can mitigate that risk.

Overland flooding was not covered by the Canadian insurance industry until 2015 according to Canadian Underwriter, but insurers have jumped on board as the waters—and homeowner demand—rise. According to a 2018 Canadian Underwriter report, 16 insurers representing 77% of the market now offer overland flooding.

Wait, earthquakes are a risk in Canada?:  Well, kind of. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, there are 4,000 recorded earthquakes in the country each year. It commissioned a study which found there is a 30% chance of a “significant” quake rocking B.C. in the next 50 years and a 5-15% chance that a strong quake will strike in the region from the St. Lawrence River Valley to the Ottawa Valley.

How: The campaign features striking renderings of homes that have been adversely impacted by flooding (Is that an inflatable flamingo in the living room?) and earthquakes. They’re accompanied by the headlines “You always wanted an indoor pool” and “Oh, you have a sunken living room.”

Screen shot 2019-07-12 at 11.54.53 AM.png

Created by commercial illustrator Geoff Keough, the illustrations are filled with Easter eggs designed to reward engaged viewers. In the earthquake image, for example, a house of cards remains standing while the actual structure around it is destroyed.

While the IBAC could have gone with actual images of submerged houses or houses destroyed by an earthquake, Agency59’s chief creative officer Brian Howlett said that probably wouldn’t have been as impactful, since those images have become so depressingly commonplace in recent years.

There is no overt IBAC branding on any of the campaign elements, which Howlett said was a conscious decision.

Because of the enormity of the problem natural disasters pose to both homeowners and the Canadian economy, he said, the goal was to establish The Big If as a distinct sub-brand to which other stakeholders such as municipalities could attach themselves to in the future.

And we quote: “Given the trust-based relationships between insurance brokers and their clients, brokers are uniquely positioned to start the conversation. ‘The Big If’ promotes the important role of the insurance broker in educating Canadians and helping them protect their financial well-being.”—IBAC CEO Peter Braid


Chris Powell