Severe Weather in Canada Cost Insurers C$1.9 Billion in 2018: IBC

January 17, 2019

Insured damage from severe weather events across Canada reached C$1.9 billion (US$1.4 billion) in 2018, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), quoting statistics from Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc.

Severe weather across Canada continues to highlight the financial costs of climate change to insurers and taxpayers, said the IBC, noting that 2018 has the fourth-highest amount of losses on record, caused by a combination of ice storms, floods, windstorms and tornadoes.

However, unlike the Quebec ice storm in 1998, the Calgary floods in 2013 or the Fort McMurray wildfire in 2016, no single event caused the high amount paid out for losses, said the IBC. Instead, Canadians and their insurers experienced significant losses from a host of smaller severe weather events from coast to coast.

These included:

  • January storms and floods that caused more than C$54 million (US$40.7 million) in insured damage across Eastern Canada
  • February storms and floods that caused more than C$57 million (US$43 million) in insured damage across southern Ontario and Quebec
  • An early-April storm that caused more than C$85 million (US$64.1 million) in insured damage across Ontario and Quebec
  • A mid-April ice storm that affected southern Ontario and resulted in more than C$190 million (US$143.3 million) in insured damage
  • An early-May windstorm that affected Ontario and parts of Quebec and topped C$410 million (US$309.2 million), with C$380 million (US$286.6 million) of this damage being in Ontario
  • Summer storms across the prairies that caused more than C$240 million (US$181 million) in insured damage
  • A flood in Toronto on Aug. 7 that caused over C$80 million (US$60.3 million) in insured damage
  • Ottawa-Gatineau tornadoes and windstorms on Sept. 21 caused C$295 million (US$222.5 million) in insured damage
  • December storms in British Columbia that caused C$37 million (US$27.9 million) in insured damage

As the financial cost of a changing climate rises, IBC said it is working with governments at all levels to advocate for increased investment to mitigate the future impacts of extreme weather and build resiliency to its damaging effects.

This includes investment in new infrastructure to protect communities from floods and fires, improved building codes, better land-use planning and, increasingly, creating incentives to shift the development of homes and businesses away from areas of highest risk.

It is not only insurers that foot the bill for severe weather damage, said IBC, noting that for every dollar paid in insurance claims for homes and businesses, Canadian governments pay out $3 to repair public infrastructure damaged by severe weather.

“Climate change is costing Canadian taxpayers, governments and businesses billions of dollars each and every year,” said Craig Stewart, Vice-President of Federal Affairs for IBC. “We must take the necessary steps to limit these losses in the future. The cost of inaction is too high.”

Source: Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC)

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