Insurable damage pushed to almost $5B after fort McMurray wildfire

Insurable damage pushed to almost $5B after fort McMurray wildfire

06 January 2017

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Canada — The Fort McMurray wildfire pushed insurable damage last year to more than $4.9 billion Canada wide, a record high, according to figures released Friday by the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

The regional vice president for IBC said that’s only part of the story. Of that $4.9 billion, $4.3 billion is from Alberta. And that’s part of a growing trend.

READ MORE: Fort Mac damage pegged at $3.58 billion

“Obviously the Fort McMurray wildfire skews those numbers,” Bill Adams said in an interview. “But when we look over the past ten years approximately 70 per cent of all insured losses as a result of severe weather across Canada, has occurred here in Alberta.”

Why Alberta?

“It’s a combination of the terrain and the weather systems that typically come down through the mountains,” Adams said. “We’ve also, in the case of the flooding in 2013, but we routinely as a result of that see hail events. They don’t make many headlines except for the day that they occur.”

IBC figures show the Alberta wildfires that forced the evacuation of Fort McMurray and surrounding areas last May resulted in about $3.7-billion in insured damage, making it the most expensive natural disaster on record. Adams adds the cost of the Fort McMurray wildfires, are already absorbed in what we’ve paid for insurance.

READ MORE: Fort McMurray Wildfire: may be a long wait before it’s safe for residents to return, says Premier

Adams however won’t venture a guess of what will happen to our insurance premiums.

“It’s difficult to say and I’m not being elusive in that. Only because it’s a competitive industry, so each insurance company has their own book of business. First of all they’ve all been impacted by this trend but some of them have been impacted much more severely than others, so obviously the ones that have been more impacted would be in a different situation and need to look at measures and the potential of premium increases.”

READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire adds $500M to AB deficit in Q1

IBC is urging governments to implement policies to prepare Canadian communities for more severe weather due to global climate change.

What is happening in Edmonton is being noticed, Adams said.

“We very much applaud the City of Edmonton for taking the tack that they have. The more information that consumers have about their risk, the better. Having flood maps and having risk assessments of communities in the hands of Edmontonians is a very good thing.” (sj)

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