September 27, 2021 by Jason Contant
Two storms this summer across Saskatchewan and Alberta caused a total of $120 million in insured damage, according to initial estimates from Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ).
Severe storms beginning Aug. 31 brought flash flooding and large hail that caused $64 million in insured damage, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) said in a press release Thursday. On July 22, very strong wind gusts, hail and rain caused $56 million in insured damage.
Large hail — tennis ball-sized, or up to 6.5 cm in parts of Saskatchewan, and up to ping pong ball-sized (3.5 cm) in Alberta — damaged homes and vehicles in both provinces. Strong winds (140 km/h in Regina and 122 km/h in Gilt Edge, Alta.) downed trees and power lines, leaving many without power for hours.
The Aug. 31-Sept. 1 storm resulted in more than 11,000 auto and property claims in Saskatchewan, Tyler McMurchy, manager of media relations with Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), told Canadian Underwriter Friday. This included more than 9,500 auto claims and more than 1,800 property claims. The storm swept through parts of Regina and elsewhere in Saskatchewan, bringing golf ball-sized hail, along with strong winds and rain, McMurchy said.
The earlier storm on July 22-23 resulted in 1,850 auto claims and 751 property claims, McMurchy said in early September.
“We definitely saw golf ball-sized hail in the Foam Lake area on July 22,” he said. “This storm hit the Foam Lake area hardest, but we also saw claims from as far away as North Battleford.”
Foam Lake is in southeast Saskatchewan, a 374-kilometre drive from North Battleford, in west-central Saskatchewan.
“Again this summer, Canadians across the Prairies had their homes, vehicles and businesses damaged by heavy storms,” said Aaron Sutherland, vice-president of IBC’s Western and Pacific region. Damage caused by hail and wind is typically covered by home, commercial and comprehensive auto insurance policies.
“As our climate changes, the frequency and severity of weather events is on the rise, and so too are the financial costs borne by insurers and taxpayers,” added Sutherland. “Nowhere is this more true than in Alberta. Of the 10 most costly natural disasters in Canadian history, six of these have hit Alberta.”
IBC said that the storms “are the latest in a very concerning trend” and follow a hail event in Calgary on July 2 that caused more than $500 million in insured damage. In June 2020, Calgary also experienced the costliest hailstorm in Canadian history — an event that caused $1.2 billion in insured damage, making it the fourth costliest natural disaster of all time.
Alberta also holds the record for the most expensive NatCat in Canadian history, with the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire that cost nearly $4 billion in damages. The next highest loss, at $3.5 billion, was in 2013 and included the flooding in southern Alberta.
Feature image by iStock.com/Mitchell Wessels