Extreme weather events cost Canada $1.3 billion in insured damages, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC)announced on Tuesday.
Last year was the seventh most costly for insured losses ever registered in Canada, the worst year being 2016, which saw Alberta wildfires cause most of the $5.26 billion in claims. Flooding in 2013 came second, followed by the devastation of the ice storm in Quebec and eastern Ontario in 1998.
The IBC notes that 2019 saw a series of smaller-scale events rather than one major incident generate the year’s claims, with the storm that battered eastern Canada in October inflicting $250 million in damages in those regions.
Flooding in April and May in Quebec and New Brunswick was next, seeing $208 million in claims filed, followed by hailstorms in July and August in western Canada ($181 million).
Given the spiralling costs of damage caused by extreme weather, the IBC is urging all levels of government to increase their investment to infrastructure to protect against flooding and fires, amend land-use and building-code regulations and discourage development on areas vulnerable to flooding.
The IBC points out that for every dollar paid in insurance claims for housing and possessions damaged by extreme weather, governments and the taxpayers that fund them are paying far more to repair infrastructure damaged by those same events.