Northern Alberta Wildfire Costliest Insured Natural Disaster in Canadian History

July 12, 2016

The insured property damage from the May 2016 northern Alberta wildfire is estimated to be $3.58 billion, according to Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ) and the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). It is by far the costliest insured natural disaster in Canadian history. This is more than twice the amount of the previous costliest natural disaster on record – the 2013 southern Alberta flood, which cost $1.7 billion in insurance claims.

“This wildfire, and the damage it caused, is more alarming evidence that extreme weather events have increased in both frequency and severity in Canada,” said Don Forgeron, president and CEO of the IBC. “In recent times, wildfires and flooding have turned extreme and at times tragic,” said Forgeron. “As a country, we need to take a more disciplined and sustained approach to helping prepare Canadians for fires and floods. We must build a more resilient country to better protect those affected by the very real impacts of our changing climate. By taking action now, we can minimize costs to taxpayers and better equip homeowners for the risks and challenges that lie ahead.”

Canada’s property and casualty insurance industry was on the ground within a day of the evacuation and has been working tirelessly alongside thousands of dedicated Albertans and people from across Canada and beyond to help residents of Fort McMurray and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo respond, recover and rebuild. Insurers and IBC are fully committed to working with all levels of government, the community and other stakeholders for as long as it takes to rebuild.

In a further breakdown of the insured damage data, CatIQ reports that there are more than 27,000 personal property claims; the average claim is $81,000. There are also more than 12,000 auto insurance claims, averaging $15,000 per claim. In addition, there are more than 5,000 commercial insurance claims that average over $250,000 per claim. On top of this insured damage, IBC acknowledges the community, its residents and businesses have suffered incalculable losses not typically covered by insurers and continues to work to help the community rebuild.

IBC and its members continue to process claim requests as quickly as possible to ensure that policyholders can return to normal life. The $3.58 billion in claims payments from the insurance industry will go a long way toward reaching this goal.

Source: CatIQ/Insurance Bureau of Canada

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