The December 2013 ice storm that smashed through southern Ontario and the Maritimes heaped another $200 million in insured losses onto an already record-breaking year for natural disaster losses.
The year-end severe weather insured loss total of $3.2 billion is the highest in Canadian history, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, and more than triple the recent annual average.
"In 2013, the terrible effects of the new weather extremes hit Canadians hard," says Don Forgeron, President and CEO, IBC. "From the Alberta floods last summer to the ice storms in Ontario and Atlantic Canada over the holidays, frankly, bad weather hit insurers hard, too."
The losses of 2013 came after four years in a row of natural disaster losses for the insurance industry that hit the $1 billion mark.
In the December ice storms that hit southern Ontario and eastern Canada, most of the $200 million in claims were for homes damaged by trees that fell as a result of ice buildup. Ontario-based insurers also paid more than $25 million in claims for vehicles damaged in the storm.
"I'm very proud of how the home, car and business insurance industry performed during these difficult times. We responded quickly to disasters when Canadians needed us most," says Forgeron. "Despite unprecedented losses, we were there for Canadians through each and every high-cost disaster. And we are contributing new ideas and leadership for adapting to severe weather in the future."
The largest insured disaster – and Canada's costliest natural disaster ever – was the torrential rainfall that flooded towns in southern Alberta last June.
Insured damage for that storm was more than $1.74 billion, with rebuilding efforts expected to continue for many months to come.
"These unprecedented losses have been very difficult for Albertans. Many homes and businesses were destroyed," says Bill Adams, vice president of the western and pacific region for IBC. "Rebuilding will go on for some time to come, and our industry will continue to be there to fulfill its important role."
Ontario's most expensive insured natural disaster in history occurred in July, when record rainfall soaked Toronto resulting in $940 million in damages.
Other natural disasters in 2013 included the severe thunderstorm that hit central and southern Ontario and southwest Quebec in July causing around $200 million in damage and the band of powerful thunderstorms that hit Quebec and Ontario in June with damage amounting to over $50 million.
"Canadian communities are seeing more severe weather, especially more intense rainfall. This overburdens our sewer and stormwater infrastructure, resulting in more sewer backups in homes and businesses," says Forgeron. "Property and casualty insurers are collaborating with all three levels of government to help Canadians adapt to these new weather realities."