The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) says the derecho storm that blew across southern and eastern Ontario and parts of Quebec is the sixth largest “insured loss event” in Canadian history.
The powrful storm killed 10 people and crushed electrical grids, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power for days.
IBC said Wednesday that the storm did more than $720 million worth of damage in Ontario and $155 million in Quebec, for a total of $875 million, according to initial estimates from Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc.
“This storm now ranks as the sixth largest in Canadian history in terms of insured losses – surpassing the Toronto flood of 2005. The derecho caused widespread damage to property, extensive power outages and sadly, loss of life,” IBC said.
The costliest disaster in Canadian history, according to IBC, was the Fort McMurray wildfires in 2016, with $4 billion in insurance payouts. The 1998 ice storm ranks second, at $2.3 billion in 2021 dollars. The 2013 floods in southern Alberta, the 2020 Alberta hailstorm, and the 2013 flooding in Toronto were the third, fourth, and fifth most expensive events, respectively.
IBC notes that eight of the top 10 costliest disasters in history have happened since 2011. The bureau says it is “a sobering reminder of the increasing risk climate change poses” across Canada.
“IBC continues to advocate for a National Adaptation Strategy that will result in tangible short-term measures that improve Canada's climate defence,” IBC said. “Governments at all levels must act with urgency to prioritize investments that reduce the impact of these severe weather events on families and communities.”
While power has largely been restored to affected areas, the city of Ottawa is still cleaning up storm damage. City staff say it could take months to complete all the work. Hydro Ottawa estimated its costs alone could reach up to $30 million. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said he's received assurances from Ontario Premier Doug Ford that the province would cover the city's storm-related expenses.
Top 10 natural disasters in Canada for insurance payouts (2021 $CDN)
1. Fort McMurray wildfires (2016): $4 billion
2. Eastern ice storm (1998): $2.3 billion
3. Southern Alberta floods (2013): $1.8 billion
4. Alberta hailstorm (2020): $1.2 billion
5. Toronto flood (2013): $1 billion
6. Ontario-Quebec derecho: $875 million
7. Toronto flood (2005): $780 million
8. Ontario windstorm (2018): $695 million
9. British Columbia flood (2021): $675 million
10. Slave Lake fire (2011): $600 million