A Study of Household Flood Insurance Purchase Behaviour

Principal Investigator:
Niko Yiannakoulias
School of Geography and Earth Sciences
McMaster University
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
(905) 525-9140 ext. 20117

Student Investigator:
Connor Darlington
School of Geography and Earth Sciences
McMaster University
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
(905) 525-9140 ext. 28611

Research Sponsor: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)

Purpose of the Study:
We want to better understand how people perceive flooding risks and how that perception translates into action. Understanding decisions about flood risk is important for long-term risk management practices. Through this survey, we hope to collect information that will help better understand and improve flood risk management in Canada.

You are invited to take part in this study on household decision making. Your participation will help us better understand how households make decisions about flood risk. I am doing this research as part of my Master of Science program at McMaster University.

Procedures involved in the Research:
You will be asked to provide some basic demographic information such as age and education. You will be asked about your view on the risk of household flooding. You will be asked about whether or not you discuss flooding or household risks with your neighbours and whether those discussions influence your decision making. You will be asked how you would react to various flood risk management scenarios. Finally, you will be asked about your flood experience and view on climate change. Note that there are no correct answers, rather we want to gather information about your individual choices.

The survey is expected to require about 10 minutes of your time. This can be completed at any computer with an internet connection, at one of our designated laptops if done in person, or as a physical written copy. If you are participating online, you may also choose to quit and restart the survey at a later time if you prefer.

Are there any risks to doing this study?
This is a survey, so the risks involved in participating in this study are minimal. Some questions require you to consider scenarios that involve decision-making which may make you feel uncomfortable as you consider the options. However, these scenarios are hypothetical and, should you feel discomfort, you may exit the survey at any time.

While we do not collect names of participants, if you choose to provide your email address (which is completely optional) in order to become eligible for the prize draw, it can be personally identifying. To mitigate risk to participants, your email will be stored on a secure private server maintained by the Principal Investigator that is separate from the survey responses, thereby anonymizing the responses. The digital database of survey responses is encrypted during transport over the internet, is password-protected and requires two-step verification for access by the researcher.

Potential Benefits
The research will not benefit you directly. You may become more aware of the consequences of flooding or similar disasters from doing the study. Your community may benefit in the long term through policy-making which considers how homeowners make decisions, as a result of the study. We hope that the results of this study will inform future safety and risk management strategies that are important to communities across the country.

Payment or Reimbursement
If you complete the survey, you will be entered into a draw for a $250 Amazon.ca gift certificate.

The information you submit for this study will be kept confidential. I will not use your name or any information that would allow for you to be identified. No one but my supervisor, Dr. Yiannakoulias, and I will know whether you participated in this study unless you choose to tell them.

All responses and surveys are performed online (unless you are completing a paper version), where if you choose to provide your email address, it will be stored on a secured private server. Consent information and survey responses will be stored in a password-protected Google Drive which requires two-step verification. Results are anonymized by storing email and survey responses in separate places, with the email being stored on a private server maintained by the Principal Investigator. If your email is drawn for the prize, or you choose to be contacted with the study results, you will be emailed accordingly. After approximately September 2024, 5 years after finishing my thesis, the database will be destroyed. The reason the data is stored securely for 5 years following is to provide more refined analysis of the data if new techniques become available in the future, or if journal publishers request reanalysis.

Participation and Withdrawal:
Your participation in this study is voluntary. If you decide to be part of the study, you can stop (withdraw) from the survey for whatever reason, even after signing the consent form or part-way through the survey. However, since we anonymize the survey responses by disconnecting them from your contact information, once a survey has been completed we cannot withdraw the survey responses, only your email. You can exit the survey on every page by exiting the survey window, enabling you to withdraw if you choose, but only submitted surveys become eligible for the prize draw. Withdrawing your email, if you choose to provide it, excludes you from the draw prize as it is the identifying point of contact to reaching you. Cancelling the survey while in the middle of completing it has no consequences to you, and the data you entered thus far will be destroyed. If you decide to withdraw, there will be no consequences to you. We encourage you to answer all questions provided, as they have been selected to provide some generalizability and are disconnected from your email, but if you choose to leave some sections blank you will still be eligible for the prize draw. Each question has been selected and deemed important for understanding differences in perceiving flood risks, so we encourage full completion.

How do I find out what was learned in this study?
I expect to have this study completed by approximately September of 2019. Study results will be posted on the Principal Investigator's lab webpage at the link below by October 1st, 2019: www.healthgeomatics.com/floodingsurvey .

Questions about the study:
If you have questions or need more information about the study itself, please contact me at:


This study has been reviewed by the McMaster University Research Ethics Board and received ethics clearance. If you have concerns or questions about your rights as a participant or about the way the study is conducted, please contact:

McMaster Research Ethics Secretariat
Telephone: (905) 525-9140 ext. 23142
C/o Research Office for Administrative Development and Support
E-mail: ethicsoffice@mcmaster.ca


  • I have read the information presented in the information letter about a study being conducted by Connor Darlington and Dr. Niko Yiannakoulias of McMaster University.
  • I have had the opportunity to ask questions about my involvement in this study and to receive additional details I requested.
  • I understand that if I agree to participate in this study, I can quit the survey prior to completion, and can additionally withdraw my email up until February 29, 2019, however my responses once submitted can't be retracted as they are anonymized.
  • I have been given a copy of this form.
  • I am 20 years of age or older and I live in Canada as a homeowner or tenant.
  • I agree to participate in the study.

Type in your email address into the space below if you wish to be eligible for the $250 Amazon Gift Card prize draw after the research is completed. If you wish to partcipate in the survey but do not wish to include your email address, leave the space blank.

Please email darlinjc@mcmaster.ca if you have any technical difficulties, or wish to confirm that your email address was submitted and you are eligibile for the draw for a $250 Amazon Gift Card. If you do not want to participate in this survey, please close the browser window.