Winter Storm Causes Over $124 Million in Insured Damage Across Eastern Canada

April 11, 2019 (TORONTO) – The winter storm that hit Ontario on March 14 and continued through Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia until March 16, caused over $124 million in insured damage, according to Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ).* Bringing dramatic temperature changes and heavy rainfall, the storm resulted in snowmelt and widespread flooding. 

Flood warnings were issued across Ontario in advance of heavy rain that began mid-morning on March 14. The storm hit northwestern Ontario and spread east through Ontario and southern Quebec. Rain continued in eastern Ontario and southern Quebec on the evening of March 15, and ended early on March 16, changing to light flurries in Quebec. 

On March 15, the storm brought rain to southern and central New Brunswick, and then to western and northern Nova Scotia. The rain became drizzle by evening and lasted into mid-morning on March 16. Halifax Airport reported 80 km/h wind gusts. Heavy rain in Nova Scotia amounted to between 15 and 60 mm in various parts of the province. 

Throughout Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada there were reports of water-related damage and flooding due to heavy rain and mild temperatures that led to snowmelt and ice jams. Damage included basement leaks and sewer backups. Insured damage is estimated at $53 million in Ontario, $63 million in Quebec, $1.8 million in New Brunswick, and $6.6 million in Nova Scotia.

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

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

Visit IBC’s website for information on how to prepare for a disaster and ways to prevent flood damage to your home

*CatIQ estimated the amount of insured damage under licence to IBC. For more information on CatIQ, visit


“Severe weather events driven by climate change are happening more regularly and with greater strength. In particular, heavy rainstorms that cause flooding are becoming more common. 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 what type of flooding and water damage their policies cover."

   – Kim Donaldson, Vice-President, Ontario, IBC 

“As a society, we have to adapt to this changing climate that’s resulting in an increase of extreme weather events. Canadians need to understand the financial and physical risks they and their families are exposed to. Better building codes, increased risk awareness and infrastructure improvements are all needed to make our communities more resilient. Homeowners will also benefit from a better knowledge of what they can do in and around their homes to protect against the wrath of Mother Nature.”

   – Pierre Babinsky, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Quebec, IBC

“With climate change, we’re seeing extreme storms that involve floods and severe wind more frequently, and they are hitting with greater intensity. The insured damage from these storms is just part of the equation; the economic cost to homeowners and governments also needs to be factored into the total cost to society. Consumers need to take precautions and secure their property to minimize potential damage. It’s key to know what's covered before catastrophe strikes."

   – Amanda Dean, Vice-President, Atlantic, 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. 

If you have a question about home, auto or business insurance, contact IBC's Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC in Ontario.