Canadian Underwriter

Aon Benfield suggests Brantford flooding will cost “tens of millions”

March 9, 2018   by Jason Contant

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Aon Benfield’s catastrophe model development team, Impact Forecasting, is estimating total economic and insured losses in the tens of millions (U.S. dollars) for the recent flooding in southern Ontario.

Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ) told Canadian Underwriter in late February that it does expect insured losses to exceed $25 million, but did not anticipate insured loss figures until mid to late March.

Brantford residents were being evacuated due to flooding along the Grand River after an ice jam upstream of Parkhill Dam sent a surge of water downstream on Wednesday, February 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim

The flooding in southern Ontario was prompted by heavy rainfall associated with a storm system in the United States, Impact Forecasting wrote in its Global Catastrophe Recap report for February, released Thursday. Most of the flood damage occurred in southern Ontario, including the communities in Brantford and Waterloo, after river overflowed their banks, the report said. Ice jams played a major role in the flooding.

Brantford declared a state of emergency after the Grand River swelled and inundated many homes and businesses. The Canadian Press reported earlier that an ice jam on the river forced nearly 5,000 people from their homes.

Related: Ontario flooding a “wakeup call” for homeowners to check their policies: IBC

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) said in February that ongoing flooding issues in southern Ontario are a “wakeup call” that homeowners should be reviewing their water damage coverage. IBC’s director of consumer and industry relations for Ontario, Pete Karageorgos, told Canadian Underwriter that he visited Brantford during the time of the flooding and spoke with several residents, one of whom was “shocked by the amount of ice backup, and that the river rose so quickly.”

Homes adjacent to the river were flooded, but water also appeared in the basements of homes that were not beside the river. “In some cases, it was a question of how the water ended up penetrating the basement,” said Karageorgos, adding it was unclear whether the water came up from the sewer or whether the flooded basements were caused by a high water table. For those homeowners, the “big questions” are the cause, and whether or not the water damage is covered under their homeowner policies, he added.

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