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British Columbia flood losses reach estimated $450mn

13th December 2021 - Author: Katie Baker

The recent flooding in southern British Columbia is now estimated to have caused $450 million in insured damage, according to preliminary estimates from Catastrophe Indices and Quantification (CatIQ).

cat-iq-catastrophe-indices-quantificationThis will be the most costly severe weather event in the province’s history, and began with a series of atmospheric rivers on November 13 that brought unprecedented rain to the province’s southwest over a two-week period.

The storms resulted in the tragic loss of life, as well as devastating mudslides and flooded homes, farms and businesses.

Public infrastructure, including major highways, was destroyed, choking supply chains resulting in a State of Emergency. Given the scale of the disaster, it is expected that the overall economic losses will be much higher than the insured loss figure.

Aaron Sutherland, Vice-President, Pacific and Western, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) commented: “While the insurance damage stemming from these flood events is significant, the sad reality is that many residents impacted were located in high-risk flood areas and floodplains where flood insurance coverage is not available.

“As a result, the overwhelming majority of costs for this disaster will be borne by government and taxpayers. As we continue to see the increasing impacts of our changing climate, it’s clear much more must be done to create a culture of preparedness and to build our resilience to the risks we face.”

“This year, British Columbians have seen first-hand the devastating impact our changing climate can have, be it severe storms, wildfires or floods.

“Insurance can help individuals recover financially, but the human impact is often irreparable. These disasters are also having an outsized impact on those most vulnerable and, as a result, we must greatly enhance our efforts to mitigate future climate change and to adapt to the new weather reality we face.”

IBC has been leading conversations with the federal and provincial governments on ways to better protect communities moving forward and to better manage the costs of flooding for high-risk residential properties in Canada.

As a member of the federal, provincial and territorial Task Force on Flood Insurance and Relocation, IBC has put forth options to create a residential flood insurance program, this includes a public-private partnership model which would make affordable insurance available to residents of high-risk areas.

In 2021 British Columbia has been impacted by windstorms in January that caused $134 million in insured damage across western Canada, the devastating wildfires that caused $155 million in insured damage this past summer, and these recent flood events which have caused $450 million in insured damage, as per CatIQ.

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