CANADA – Two storms that raged across Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada in July and August caused C$120 million (US$94.5 million) in insured damage, while the August wildfire, in White Rock Lake, British Columbia, is now estimated to have caused damages of C$77 million (US$61 million), according to initial estimates from Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ).
The Insurance Bureau of Canada, which released totals for both events in separate announcements on Sept. 23.
Detailing the storm losses, IBC said strong winds, hail and rain on July 22 caused C$56 million ($44.1 million) in insured damage, while severe storms on Aug. 31 brought flash flooding and large hail that caused a further C$64 million ($50.4 million) in insured damage.
Hail damaged homes and vehicles in both provinces, while strong winds downed trees and power lines, leaving many without power for hours, said the IBC in a statement.
“As our climate changes, the frequency and severity of weather events is on the rise, and so too are the financial costs borne by insurers and taxpayers,” commented Aaron Sutherland, vice-president, Western and Pacific, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). “Nowhere is this more true than in Alberta. Of the 10 most costly natural disasters in Canadian history, six of these have hit Alberta.”
“These storms are the latest in a very concerning trend and follow closely on the heels of a hail event in Calgary earlier this summer that caused over C$500 million ($394 million) in insured damage on July 2,” the IBC said.
Last year, Calgary also witnessed the costliest hailstorm in Canadian history, causing roughly C$1.2 billion ($945 million) in insured damages, making it the fourth costliest natural disaster of all time. The most expensive natural catastrophe on record is the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire, which resulted in almost C$4 billion ($3.2 billion) in insured losses. The next highest loss, at $3.5 billion ($2.8 billion), was in 2013, and included the flooding in southern Alberta.
The IBC said the White Rock Lake wildfire, which started on Aug. 2, is likely to cost C$77 million from more than 800 claims, with the majority related to residential properties.
“Wildfires have devastated British Columbia this summer and are a tragic reminder of the increasing risk facing communities across the province, and country, from a changing climate,” said the IBC. “As our climate changes, the frequency and severity of weather events like wildfire are increasing, as are the financial costs borne by insurers and taxpayers.”
The amount of insured damages are estimates provided by CatIQ under license to the IBC, which is the industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies make up 90% of the property/casualty insurance market in Canada.