Canadian Underwriter

How much these four Alberta cats cost insurers in 2020

September 10, 2020   by Greg Meckbach

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Four Alberta catastrophes this year have cost insurers a grand total of about $2 billion, the Insurance Bureau of Canada confirmed this week.

A hailstorm June 13, affecting mainly northeast Calgary, topped the list as it caused about $1.2 billion in insured damages.

Quoting Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ), IBC noted Tuesday that April flooding in Fort McMurray cost the industry an estimated $522 million, coming in at second on the list.

“Weather has hit our province hard this year,” said Celyeste Power, IBC’s Edmonton-based western vice president.

A storm that hit the Calgary, Drumheller, Airdrie and Strathmore areas on July 24 cost more than $135 million in insured damages and resulted in over 10,000 claims, IBC said. A fourth event — a storm that occurred over Aug. 2-3 in central Alberta — caused an additional $58 million in insured damages.

The June hailstorm — which saw hail the size of tennis balls rip through homes, businesses and vehicles — is high on the radar for companies that rate the financial strength of insurers.

“Until recently, hail was considered secondary to the big three catastrophe perils: flood, wind, and fire. With hailstorms, if this severity and the rise in the frequency of Alberta hailstorms in the last 20 years, Canada could be seeing a shift in the cat landscape,” A.M. Best Company Inc. said in a report released Tuesday.

Between 1983 and 2008, the average yearly total for insured damage related to severe weather across Canada was $422 million, IBC reported Thursday. From 2009 to 2019, Canada-wide severe weather losses averaged about $1.9 billion annually.

“Water is certainly a big driver of these losses but we can’t discount hail,” said Glenn McGillivray, managing director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, during a recent Canadian Underwriter webinar.

“Even prior to this big event this past June in southern Alberta, we had more than $2 to $3 billion under our belts in hail-related events from the previous couple of years,” he added during the webinar, Standing on Guard for Thee: Adjusting Canadian NatCats.

“Even though people don’t talk about it it’s a major driver of loss. Some years have themes to them but the losses really run the gamut,” McGillivray said of cat losses in Canada.


Feature Image: The Canadian Press/Jeff McIntosh

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