Although some may quibble over its description as a “natural” disaster, it’s now official that the Fort McMurray wildfire will go down as the most expensive such catastrophe in history for Canadian property owners and insurers.
“Insured losses from the May wildfires are expected to total C$3.58 billion,” Reuters reports, citing figures from the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
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“According to the bureau, the costs broke down as: 27,000 personal-property claims with an average claim of $81,000 each; 12,000 auto claims averaging $15,000; and more than 5,000 business claims which averaged over $250,000 (including the cost of work closures).”
The total more than doubles the previous title-holder as most expensive Canadian disaster: the urban floods that inundated much of downtown Calgary in 2013, incurring about $1.7 billion in insurance claims.
The Fort McMurray losses were also a substantial multiple of the $700 million in claims generated by the previous most-costly Canadian wildfire, which destroyed 400 homes in Slave Lake, AB in 2011. The Fortt McMurray wildfire levelled an estimated 2,400 properties, forced the evacuation of some 90,000 residents, and slashed crude output from the tar sands/oil sands by about a million barrels a day.
“Seven of the largest 10 Canadian natural disasters for insurable losses,” Reuters noted, have “occurred in Alberta.”
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