DAILY NEWS Apr 27, 2012 4:55 PM - 0 comments

Insured losses for Canadian catastrophes reach $1.5 billion

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Canadian insurers saw total insured losses soar to $1.5 billion last year as a result of catastrophes.

The total is substantially higher than the $860 million in 2010, Joel Baker, president and CEO of MSA Research Inc., told attendees at CIP Society Symposium 2012 in Toronto on Apr. 26.

While losses were high on the global scale – the earthquake in New Zealand ($13 billion), the earthquake and tsunami in Japan ($36 billion in insured losses) and flooding in Thailand (insured losses of $11 billion) – things were also plenty busy at home, including the wildfire that leveled much of Slave Lake, Alberta and extensive tornado damage in Goderich, Ontario.

Catastrophes in Canada numbered seven in 2011, up from five in year-over-year comparisons. In 2010, 88,250 claims produced an estimated insurance payment of $815 million while 99,550 claims in 2011 led to an estimated $1.58 billion payment, Baker said.

Alberta has been a bane of catastrophic costs, he told symposium attendees, accounting for almost two-thirds of estimated insurance payments between 2009 and 2011. He reported damage estimates in Alberta during this three-year period ($1.9 billion) compares to Ontario (approximately $906 million) and Quebec (just shy of $177 million).

Baker said the increase in catastrophes and the associated cost in Canada are already contributing to higher insurance cost for policyholders, a situation that he expects will continue.

Noting that tornadoes account for 70% of catastrophic events in the United States and are becoming more frequent in Canada, he quipped, “I don’t believe that tornadoes know about the border.”

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