Canadian Underwriter

Adjusters stretched thin after back-to-back storms

May 31, 2022   by Alyssa DiSabatino

Image of man standing with his hands on his hips, looking at Winnipeg's red river floodway

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Manitoba has experienced one of the wettest springs on record, and the back-to-back storms and flooding have stretched adjusters’ resources very thin, claims professionals say. 

Strong winds and a rainstorm that occurred in Manitoba last evening have continued into today. This event is predicted to exacerbate flooding; an overland flood warning was issued for most of southern Manitoba by the provincial government yesterday.  

“The recent Ontario storm will draw some attention and resources away from potential deployment in Manitoba,” Walter Waugh, vice president of loss adjusting for Western Canada at Crawford & Company, says in a written statement to Canadian Underwriter. “It is a situation we must pay close attention to. Hopefully the weather there stabilizes very soon. 

“We are extremely busy in Manitoba and have been for several weeks. A combination of storms back-to-back has adjusting resources stretched very thin. We are trying hard to support the team there with outside assistance wherever possible including adjusters and support staff,” writes Waugh. 

Ontario and Quebec saw severe wind damage last week, when a derecho packing wind speeds of between 100 km/h and 140 km/h travelled more than 160 kilometres through the two provinces. Aon predicts the resulting tree and roof damage caused by the storm, in addition to extended power outages, will make Canada’s Top 10 list for insured damage caused by a convective storm.

Meanwhile, Manitoba has seen roughly four to five notable weather events since mid-April, according to insurance experts. 

“On top of substantial snow melt, Manitoba has seen approximately five weather events since mid-April, including wind and substantial rainfall,” Paul Féron, senior vice president of Ontario and Manitoba at ClaimsPro, says in a written statement. 

“It is unreal what Mother Nature has dropped in our lap this spring,” Hugh Sutherland, Manitoba branch manager for Crawford & Company, adds in a written statement. “Our adjusters are running full-tilt with damages again from a combination of wind and rain.” 

Although usually required to contend with tough flood seasons, much of the province has been affected by unprecedented levels of flooding over the last few weeks. 

“We are seeing a combination of sewer back-ups and in some cases pure overland flooding. We are writing damage estimates where appropriate given the low limits of many sewer back-up policies in the province,” says Sutherland.  

“We are most definitely seeing an increase in both volume of claim assignments, as well as calls to our emergency and after-hours call centre (ECS), during and after business hours,” says Féron. 

Féron confirms the events have generated sewer back-up claims, overland flooding claims, roof claims and has caused spring planting to run behind in farming regions across the province. 

Environment Canada issued a heavy rainfall alert today for southeastern Manitoba, warning of showers and thunderstorms that could cause damage along the province’s southern lakes and surrounding areas. 

Many areas have already experienced 30 to 50 mm of rainfall, but an additional 10 to 20 mm is expected throughout the day. Winds of up to almost 100 km/h are forecast. 

“We anticipate that after today, the weather will settle. Over the next two weeks, no substantial wind or rain is forecasted,” Féron adds. 


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