Canadian Underwriter

Total economic losses from March winter storm in Ontario and Quebec estimated at $130 million: Impact Forecasting

April 6, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter

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Total economic losses from a winter storm in Ontario and Quebec in March were estimated to approach $130 million (US$100 million), while insurers anticipated losses well into the tens of millions in U.S. dollars, according to Impact Forecasting’s Global Catastrophe Recap for March.

iStock_000089819739_SmallThe winter storm on March 24 and 25, tracked into southern Canada from the United States, brought accumulating snow, ice and freezing rain to portions of Ontario and Quebec, causing widespread damage, Impact Forecasting said in a press release on Wednesday. Southern Ontario was particularly impacted, the report added, as trees collapsed onto homes and vehicles under the weight of up to 30 millimeters of ice. Beyond structural damage, power outages were blamed on a spike of sump pump failures, which led to flooding in basements. Treacherous driving conditions additionally prompted hundreds of traffic accidents, the report said.

In addition, a strong Pacific weather system came ashore in western Canada on March 9 and 10, bringing heavy rain and high winds to parts of British Columbia and Alberta. At least one person was killed. The inclement weather caused considerable tree damage as fallen limbs fell onto homes, businesses and vehicles. Isolated flooding left many homes inundated. As many as 120,000 customers lost electricity in the Vancouver metro region, the report said, with total economic losses estimated well into the (U.S.) millions of dollars.

On March 13, a strong Pacific storm system brought near hurricane-force wind gusts to B.C. Widespread damage was noted as a result of downed trees onto homes, businesses and vehicles, the report noted. At the peak of the event, tens of thousands of power outages were noted in the greater Vancouver metro region.

In the U.S., seven severe convective storm events impacted nearly every part of the country during the month, as more than 1,000 individual reports of tornadoes, damaging straight-line winds and hail were recorded by the Storm Prediction Center, Impact Forecasting, Aon Benfield’s catastrophe model development team, said in the release. The Insurance Council of Texas estimated insured losses for the state alone at more than US$1.1 billion, following over 125,000 home and auto claim filings over several weeks.

Overall economic losses sustained to property, infrastructure and agriculture across the U.S. from the convective storm and flood damage were anticipated to approach US$3.5 billion, while insured losses incurred by public and private insurance entities were tentatively estimated at US$2 billion.

Natural hazard events that occurred elsewhere during March include:

  • The most damaging severe thunderstorm and flood event in at least a decade impacted the United Arab Emirates and Oman. UAE local insurers anticipated claims to reach US$140 million, with total economic losses to be well into the hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars;
  • Thunderstorm and heavy rain events impacted central and eastern sections of China, leading the Ministry of Civil Affairs to report aggregated economic losses of US$570 million.
  • Windstorm Jeanne caused hurricane-force winds and flooding in northern Europe, killing at least one person. Total economic and insured losses are expected to exceed US$100 million; and
  • Intensifying drought conditions in India caused major crop damage. The National Disaster Relief Fund recently allocated US$600 million for seven hard-hit states: Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland.

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