Alberta fires estimated to cost $3.6 billion


FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. – The Insurance Bureau of Canada says damage caused by the wildfires in Fort McMurray, Alta., totalled $3.58 billion, making it the most expensive disaster for insurers in the country’s history.

CEO Don Forgeron says the damage from the fires provide “alarming evidence” that extreme weather events have increased in frequency and severity in Canada.

Forgeron called for a more disciplined approach to helping prepare people for fires and floods.

The fires in May forced the evacuation of almost 90,000 residents from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and destroyed about 2,400 homes and other buildings.

People have since been allowed back into the community, but it took nearly two months before a state of emergency could be lifted.

The bureau said its estimate was the first based on data collected by Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc., a company that compiles insured loss amounts based on surveys with insurers.

Catastrophe Indices and Quantification says there are more than 27,000 personal property claims, with each one averaging $81,000.

Previously, the costliest insured disaster in Canada was the Quebec ice storm of 1998, which forced insurers to pay out $1.9 billion in constant 2014 dollars, according to a 2015 annual report from the bureau.

The Alberta floods of 2013 were the next costliest, resulting in $1.8 billion in insured damage.