Canadian Underwriter

Barrie tornado will cost more than originally estimated

October 28, 2021   by Greg Meckbach

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A bad storm system this past July will probably cost the industry about $100 million.

On July 15, several tornadoes touched down in central Ontario. One caused irreparable damage to dozens of homes in Barrie, about 100 kilometres north of Toronto. The Insurance Bureau of Canada announced Oct. 28 an estimate – of industry-wide insured loss – has risen from $75 million to $100 million. That estimate – which includes tornadoes that hit the same day outside of Barrie – is provided by Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc.

In addition to the Barrie tornado July 15, five other EF-2 tornadoes hit Innisfil, Kawartha Lakes, Little Britain, Manilla, Lindsay and Lake of Bays, IBC noted.

In 2010, a tornado in Leamington, Ont. caused $120 million in insured losses, Property Claims Services reported at the time.

A rating of 3 on the Enhanced Fujita scale means a tornado had maximum wind speeds of 266 kilometres per hour while EF-2 has maximum wind speeds of 210 km/h.

“There is nothing abnormal about this tornado,” said Glenn McGillivray, managing director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, in an earlier interview about the EF-2 2021 Barrie tornado.

“We get about 80 tornadoes a year in Canada that we know of. I think there are a lot more that we don’t know of,” said McGillivray.

EF-0 tornadoes have wind speeds of 90 to 130 kilometres per hour while the strongest, EF-5, have speeds of more than 315 km/h. Canada has had only one EF5 tornado ever, in 2007 near Elie, Manitoba.

Shortly after the 2021 disaster, a forensic team affiliated with ICLR visited the Barrie area.

“When you see a complete roof loss, the home is a writeoff,” McGillivray told Canadian Underwriter shortly after the July 15 tornado disaster.

IBC said Oct. 28 the July 15 tornadoes resulted in 2,200 claims, 71 uninhabitable homes and 10 injuries.

With the July 15, 2021 Barrie twister, the damage path was about five kilometres long and up to 100 metres wide, The Canadian Press reported.

“Tornados tend to do the most damage along a narrow track, as was the case here where some homes on the same street are destroyed whereas neighboring homes have cosmetic damage only.  The storm that produced the tornado was significant and extended into other areas including Keswick and the Kawarthas as the systems passed through the province,” said Greg Smith, chief operating officer of Crawford & Company (Canada) Inc., in an interview this past July.

In 2011, an F-3 tornado caused at least $75 million in insured losses in the Goderich area.

In 2014, a tornado that hit Angus (about 20 kilometres west of Barrie) cost the industry about $30 million, PCS reported at the time.

Feature image: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov