GTA flooding caused estimated $850M in insured losses

Recent flooding the most expensive natural disaster in Ontario history: IBC

In a matter of hours on July 8, a severe thunderstorm with heavy, intense rainfall caused flash flooding and set a record for Ontario insured damages arising from a single natural disaster.

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) reports that the preliminary estimate of insured property damage caused by this thunderstorm is more than $850 million.

“While these preliminary estimates are staggering, we do expect them to go even higher. The good news is that our industry was well prepared to handle our obligations to customers,” said Ralph Palumbo, IBC vice-president for Ontario, in a press release.

Read: Cities at flood prevention crossroads

But Palumbo offered this warning: “Damage caused by more frequent severe weather is just another situation our members must prepare for. The Ontario government is urged to acknowledge this and to exercise caution when it comes to imposing auto insurance premium and return-on-equity reductions without first introducing reforms that will reduce costs in the product. Without such savings, the government is almost certain to make a bad situation worse, ultimately for consumers.”

The preliminary estimate is reported by The PCS-Canada Service, which tracks insured losses arising from catastrophic events in Canada.

Between July 8 and 9, the storm, with its record rainfall in Toronto, led to a power outage affecting at least 300, 000 residents in Canada’s largest city, shut down subways, and left approximately 1,400 passengers stranded for hours on a commuter train filled with water.

Read: GTA flooding Canada’s second billion-dollar disaster of 2013

The torrential rains washed out sections of track across the GO Transit rail system causing numerous delays and system shutdowns. Both Toronto Pearson International Airport and Toronto Island Airport reported significant delays and cancellations.

Since IBC and The PCS-Canada Service started collecting data on insured losses caused by extreme weather events in Ontario, the following events have been the most expensive:

– July 8-9, 2013 – $850 million (wind and thunderstorm event)

– Aug 19, 2005 – $671 million (wind/rain storm) (in 2012 dollars)

– July 24-28, 2009 – $ 228 million (heavy rain) (in 2012 dollars)

The PCS-Canada Service will re-survey insurers in 60 days to update its estimate of the total insured losses.

IBC also commented in the release that it does not have a preliminary estimate of insured damages from the floods in Alberta as work continues on the ground to determine the full extent of insured losses and to settle claims.

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