This summer’s wildfires in the Northwest Territories of Canada, particularly near Yellowknife and Hay River, have left a profound impact, resulting in over $60 million in insured losses, according to initial estimates from Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ).
The wildfire in Behchokǫ̀-Yellowknife marked one of the largest evacuation efforts in Canada’s history, forcing approximately 20,000 individuals from their homes for about three weeks.
Rob de Pruis, National Director of Consumer and Industry Relations at the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), expressed gratitude to the firefighters and first responders who played a crucial role in protecting lives and property.
While the wildfires could have been much worse, the aftermath is substantial, with insurers still actively assisting affected customers in the repair and rebuilding process.
All standard home and business insurance policies cover wildfire damage, and residents are encouraged to contact their insurance representatives for assistance.
The devastating impact of these wildfires underscores the urgent need for Canada to address the escalating effects of climate change.
Craig Stewart, Vice-President of Climate Change and Federal Issues at IBC, emphasised the need for immediate action and substantial investment in Canada’s National Adaptation Strategy (NAS).
The NAS aims to strengthen the country’s defenses against climate change and mitigate the increasing frequency and severity of weather events.
The federal government is urged to invest at least $5.3 billion annually in the NAS over the next six years. Specific recommendations include mapping high-risk wildfire communities and funding the development of wildfire community action plans to enhance preparedness.
The two major wildfires, the Hay River Wildfire and the Behchokǫ̀-Yellowknife Wildfire, caused over $30 million in insured damage each.
In Hay River, more than three-quarters of structures in Enterprise were destroyed, and significant damage was reported in Paradise Gardens and Patterson Road.
The Behchokǫ̀-Yellowknife wildfire, which began northwest of Yellowknife, prompted a mid-August evacuation order as it approached Yellowknife city limits. Ultimately, four homes in the Rae area were destroyed.