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Alberta wildfires costliest insured disaster ever in Canada

Destroyed property in Fort McMurray, Alberta, on May 9, 2016. (Photo: AP/Rachel La Corte)
Destroyed property in Fort McMurray, Alberta, on May 9, 2016. (Photo: AP/Rachel La Corte)

(Bloomberg) — The wildfires that tore across the oil-producing region of Canada this year will cost insurers about C$3.58 billion (US$2.8 billion) in claims, the most costly insured natural disaster in the country’s history, an industry group said.

The fires led to 27,000 personal-property claims averaging C$81,000 each, and 12,000 auto claims averaging C$15,000, the Insurance Bureau of Canada said Thursday in a statement. More than 5,000 commercial claims averaged over C$250,000 and included costs from work stoppages. The estimates come from insurer surveys collected by Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc.

The wildfires raged across Northern Alberta and forced the evacuation of about 88,000 people in May, damaging Fort McMurray neighborhoods, oil-production facilities and businesses. The blazes forced oil companies including Suncor Energy Inc. to curb output and evacuate staff.

“This wildfire, and the damage it caused, is more alarming evidence that extreme weather events have increased in both frequency and severity in Canada,” Don Forgeron, IBC’s president, said in the statement.

The previous costliest natural disaster on record was a 2013 Southern Alberta flood, which cost C$1.7 billion in insurance claims, IBC said.

Related: Alberta wildfires worse for Canada economy than Katrina for U.S.

 

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