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Last month’s Ontario windstorm most expensive natural disaster for insurers in five years

By: Jessica Mach on June 7, 2018

The windstorm that hit Ontario and parts of Quebec in early May cost insurers $410 million in damages — $380 million of which went towards repair costs in Ontario alone, according to a recent report by Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc.

That’s the most money that Ontario insurers have spent on a single event since 2013, when the Toronto floods inflicted nearly $1 billion in damages.

Gusts from the early May windstorm, which lasted several hours in total, damaged roofs, knocked over trees, and caused power outages across Ontario.

The storm arrived only a few weeks after an ice storm hit Toronto and the southwestern part of the province in April, which ultimately cost insurers $187 million in damages, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).

It is also already the fifth major storm to hit the province since the start of 2018. In January, February, and April, southern Ontario saw a rash of storms that resulted in more than $300 million in damage claims.

Counting the recent windstorm, “insurers have already paid out three-quarters of a billion dollars, just five months into 2018,” said Kim Donaldson, vice president, Ontario at IBC.

IBC noted that their numbers did not include the costs endured by taxpayers and governments, which have been mounting at an even faster rate this year than the costs endured by insurers.

Climate change has become a growing concern for insurers, which have been bearing the brunt of repair costs as extreme weather occurs more and more frequently.

The federal government recently asked IBC to create a working group to find a solution to this predicament. The main issues at hand? Making sure that insurers stay afloat as extreme weather claims become more frequent, but that insurance also remains affordable for people who live in high risk areas.