July 7, 2016 5:13 pm
Updated: July 7, 2016 8:09 pm

Top 10 most costly disasters in Canadian history for insurers

WATCH ABOVE: The Fort McMurray wildfire is now officially Canada's most costly insured disaster. The Insurance Bureau of Canada revealed the blaze caused $3.6 billion of damage. Fletcher Kent reports.


Thursday, the Insurance Bureau of Canada said insured damage caused by the Fort McMurray wildfires was the most expensive disaster in the country’s history for insurance providers. The May fires caused $3.58 billion, according to the bureau.

READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire: $3.6B in damage, says Insurance Bureau of Canada 

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Prior to that, the most expensive 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 IBC annual report. The Alberta floods of 2013 were the second costliest, resulting in $1.8 billion in insured damage.

Here’s a list of the most costly – for insurers – disasters in Canada using dollar values at the time of the disaster, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC):

#1: May 2016 Fort McMurray Wildfires

The IBC said the insured damage from the fires was $3.58 billion.

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

READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire: Hundreds of undamaged homes not safe to live in 

#2: June 2013 Southern Alberta Floods

A massive wind and thunderstorm event created $1.72 billion in insured damage.

Between 100,000 and 120,000 people were forced from their homes across Alberta due to the flooding that began June 8, 2013. Three people were killed.

READ MORE: Flooding timeline: A devastating, drenching June for Alberta 

#3: January 1998 Eastern Ice Storm

The ice storm that slammed Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick caused $1.49 billion in insured damages.

Between January 4 and 10, 1998, parts of eastern Ontario and Quebec were hit by three storms. The total precipitation from the storms totalled 80 mm or more.

It left nearly a million people without power across eastern Ontario and parts of Quebec.

READ MORE: Looking back at the Ice Storm of 1998 

#4: July 2013 Toronto Flood

The wind and thunderstorm event caused $943 million in insured damage.

It flooded highways and streets in the Greater Toronto Area on July 8 with approximately 126 mm of rain, according to Environment Canada.

Close to 1,400 commuters had to be rescued from a GO Transit train after it became stranded in flood waters shortly after leaving Union Station. Several drivers had to abandon vehicles in flooded streets as the waters rose.

READ MORE: The most dramatic photos and video from the Toronto flood 

#5: Slave Lake 2011 Fire

In May 2011, a wildfire tore through the Alberta community, causing $700 million in insured damages.

The mid-May fire – which was later determined to be arson – destroyed one-third of the town.

READ MORE: What lessons were learned from the tragic 2011 Slave Lake blaze?

#6: August 2005 Toronto Flood

On Aug. 19, 2005, a series of severe thunderstorms approached the city from the south, affecting Kitchener to Ottawa and the northern part of Toronto. A rare tornado warning was even issued for the city.

The storm caused $590 million in insured damage.

At the height of the storm there were an incredible 1,400 lightning strikes a minute. Flash flooding occurred in Toronto, and one road was even washed out entirely with a sink hole.

READ MORE: Worst natural disasters in Toronto’s history: How they compare 

#7: September 1991 Calgary Hailstorm

On Sept. 7, 1991, the City of Calgary was hit by a hailstorm that cost insurers $343 million.

The insured damage from this hailstorm surpassed even the Edmonton tornado of 1987 in terms of damage.

#8: August 2014 Alberta Hailstorm

On Aug. 7 and 8, a severe thunderstorm caused $537 million in insured damage to Alberta properties.

The City of Airdrie might have seen the biggest damage, due to heavy rain and hail as big as golf balls.

READ MORE: Several severe storms strike Airdrie

Damage was also seen in an area stretching from Calgary up to Red Deer and Rocky Mountain House.

#9: August 2012 Calgary-area Storm

On Aug. 12, 2012, parts of Alberta – mostly around Calgary – were hit with wild winds and thunderstorms, which ended up costing $530 million in insured damage.

The monster hailstorm, which lasted just 10 minutes but slammed Calgary with golf-ball-size hail, was followed by another storm two days later that brought wind gusts of up to 100 km/h, as well as more rain and hail.

READ MORE: Calgary hailstorm makes Environment Canada’s top 10 weather events of 2012 

#10: July 2010 Calgary Storm

On July 12 and 13, 2010, a wind and thunderstorm event wreaked havoc on the Calgary area and parts of southern Alberta, causing $500 million in insured damage.

The powerful storm dumped golf ball-size hail and heavy rain on parts of Calgary resulted in over 55,000 insurance claims, mostly for hail damage to vehicles but also ruined siding, broken windows, leaky roofs and flooding.

The sudden downpour caused significant damage to homes and vehicles mostly in the city’s northwest and smashed dozens of panes on a University of Calgary greenhouse.

READ MORE: Calgary hailstorm insurance claims set Canadian record 

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With files from The Canadian Press

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