Ontario Thaw Causes Over $70 Million in Insured Damage

April 5, 2019 (TORONTO) – Ontario's deep freeze at the beginning of February was quickly followed by warm weather and rain, which led to snowmelt, ice jams and flooding. Then in early March, heavy rain, and in some areas snow, followed by warmer temperatures, also led to snowmelt and flooding. These two severe weather events caused over $70 million in insured damage, according to Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ).*

On February 4, the temperature soared to between 10 and 15 C, breaking records across southern Ontario and causing significant snowmelt. That evening, 20 to 40 centimetres of snow blanketed northern Ontario, freezing rain and drizzle fell from Sault Ste. Marie to Ottawa, and rain fell across southern Ontario. There were widespread reports of water-related damage from this event including basement leakage, sewer backups, and burst pipes. A burst water main in downtown Toronto created two sinkholes. Roads flooded in Ottawa and Cornwall due to clogged catch basins. Total insured damage for this event was over $33 miilion.

On March 9, southwestern Ontario saw strong winds and warm temperatures, followed by rain, and in some areas freezing rain. In Ottawa, snow transitioned to freezing rain, and then to rain and drizzle as the day went on. Peak wind gusts of 80–100 km/h were reported from Windsor to Prince Edward County. Throughout portions of southern Ontario there were reports of flooding and water-related damage due to heavy rain and snowmelt. Much of the damage was in Toronto and surrounding areas, caused by the melting of an unusually large snowpack. Damage included roof and basement leaks. Total insured damage totaled close to $37 million.

As the financial cost of severe weather rises, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is advocating all levels of government to increase their investment in mitigating the impact of extreme weather events and in building resiliency to the damaging effects of these events. IBC is campaigning for improved building codes, better land-use planning, incentives to shift the development of homes and businesses away from areas at high risk of flooding, and upgraded infrastructure to protect communities from floods.

It is not only insurers who foot the bill for severe weather damage. For every dollar that insurers pay out for these home and business claims, IBC estimates that the government pays out $3 to recover the public infrastructure that the severe weather damaged.

Learn how to prepare for a disaster and prevent flood damage to your home.  

* Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ) estimated the amount of insured damage under licence to IBC. For more information on CatIQ, visit www.catiq.com.


"Severe weather events driven by climate change are happening more frequently and with greater intensity. While the insured damage from these storms is significant, the total economic cost to homeowners and governments is even greater. It is important that property owners take precautions and protect their properties to minimize potential damage. They should also understand their insurance policies and know whether they have overland flood coverage."

   – Kim Donaldson, Vice-President, Ontario, IBC

About Insurance Bureau of Canada

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies make up 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. For more than 50 years, IBC has worked with governments across the country to help make affordable home, auto and business insurance available for all Canadians. IBC supports the vision of consumers and governments trusting, valuing and supporting the private P&C insurance industry. It champions key issues and helps educate consumers on how best to protect their homes, cars, businesses and properties.

P&C insurance touches the lives of nearly every Canadian and plays a critical role in keeping businesses safe and the Canadian economy strong. It employs more than 126,000 Canadians, pays $9 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $54.7 billion.

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