Canadian Underwriter

What was abnormal about June Calgary hail storm

July 2, 2020   by Greg Meckbach

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Alberta’s hailstorm in mid-June was so severe that some homes suffered interior damage as a result, an independent adjusting firm reports.

“We have seen skylights completely blown out to the point that the hail that impacted that skylight also impacted the interior,” Coralee Harder, regional vice president of the western region for Sedgwick Canada, said in an interview. “It was probably one of the most severe storms I have seen in the 20-plus years that I have been field adjusting.”

A thunderstorm the evening of June 13 brought hail the size of tennis balls to areas in and near Calgary. The most severe damage is mainly in northeast Calgary, industry observers from the region have told Canadian Underwriter.

There was some damage to the north, in the Balzac area, Harder said.

It is too early to tell exactly how much the storm will cost the industry, but the Insurance Bureau of Canada expects to release an initial estimate from CatIQ by the middle of July.

Glenn McGillivray, managing director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, told Canadian Underwriter earlier he would not be surprised if the Alberta storm costs the industry as much as $1 billion. This is based on photos McGillivray has seen, plus the fact that the 2014 storm that hit the smaller city of Airdrie cost the industry more than $500 million.

“Sedgwick adjusters are seeing extensive damage to homes,” Harder confirmed in a recent interview. This includes damage to siding and to paper and plywood behind the siding, which we have not seen in previous years in hail storms.”

The storm came on quick and lasted over half an hour, resident Stephen Cassley told The Canadian Press.

“Winds were howling. Hail was pounding the house so much that it shook the house,” CP reported, quoting Cassley. “It went from golf ball/ping pong ball size to tennis ball and billiard ball sizes.”

In some cases, windows were completely smashed out by the hail, Sedgwick’s Harder told Canadian Underwriter.

In addition to hail, there will also be plenty of overland water and sewer backups as a result of the June 13 storm, said Barry Haggis, President elect Insurance Brokers Association of Alberta.

This was not due to rising rivers but rather storm drains that got overwhelmed, said Haggis.

Over the past decade, Alberta has had a few dozen large hail storms which, put together, cost the industry more than $4 billion, said Rob De Pruis, IBC’s director of consumer and industry relations, Western.

“We have had a handful of other storms that have impacted the Calgary and Airdrie area that have caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damages in the past,” he said. “It is very difficult to predict storms and the damage and severity of some of these storms or where they are going to be impacting. Some of the storms in the past were in less populated areas so more rural areas so you don’ t see the same number of properties damaged.”

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