Severe storms and flash floods that hit parts of Ontario over the summer caused over $340 million in insured losses, according to initial estimates from Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ). Over $80 million – or close to 25% – of these insured losses went toward replacing or repairing storm-damaged vehicles.
“Ontarians once again experienced a summer of severe storms and floods that damaged or destroyed homes, vehicles and businesses,” said Amanda Dean, Interim Vice-President, Ontario, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). “While much of southern Ontario was affected, the Ottawa region was hardest hit by these summer storms, with intense flash flooding, torrential downpours and violent wind gusts. Our member insurers have been on the ground since day one and continue to work with the large number of policyholders whose property was damaged by these events.”
“Flooding and severe storms can be costly, stressful and difficult for people who have been affected,” added Dean. “As rebuilding and recovery continue, those who have been impacted can continue to work with their insurance representative. Residents who want to check that they have the coverage they need should contact their insurance representative to ensure they have the right coverage to protect their property or business from the impacts of the frequent and severe storms we are experiencing.”
The frequency and severity of flooding and severe storms in Ontario and across Canada continues to increase each year. IBC continues to work in close collaboration with the Ontario and federal governments, and other provinces and territories, to improve Canada’s climate defence and build the country's resilience to climate change.
The following storms from the summer of 2023 have been designated “catastrophes,” which CatIQ defines as severe weather events with insured damage estimates that total more than $30 million.
Southwestern Ontario severe storms
July 20–21, 2023 – Over $30 million in insured damage
A cold front crossing southern Ontario and Quebec led to an outbreak of severe thunderstorms on July 20 and 21, 2023. Storms produced strong wind gusts, including two confirmed tornadoes near South Buxton and Petrolia, as well as large hailstones and downpours that caused flooding. A microburst in Sarnia caused significant damage, including downed trees and power lines and damaged outdoor furniture and fences.
Southern Ontario severe storms
July 28–29, 2023 – Over $30 million in insured damage
A period of hot, humid weather culminated with severe thunderstorms across southern Ontario in late July 2023. Multiple supercell thunderstorms developed on July 28 and 29, with some of the strongest storms hitting the Ottawa region. Ottawa was pelted by hail up to the size of tennis balls, while strong winds brought down trees in Windsor. Heavy downpours also led to flash flooding.
Southern Ontario thunderstorms
August 3, 2023 – Over $100 million in insured damage
A summertime frontal system moving through southern Ontario sparked severe thunderstorms on August 3, 2023. The hardest-hit areas saw large hailstones, violent wind gusts and torrential downpours. Lindsay and Ottawa were among the most significantly impacted regions. The storms knocked down homes under construction, downed trees and power lines, and damaged vehicles. Flash flooding left many vehicles partially submerged.
Ottawa flash flooding
August 10, 2023 – Over $70 million in insured damage
A cold front sliding through southeastern Ontario on August 10 sparked a series of thunderstorms across the Ottawa region, targeting parts of the city with an intense burst of rainfall. While much of southern Ontario witnessed storms related to this front, conditions produced dramatic rainfall over parts of the Ottawa region. A swath from Nepean to Carson Grove was the hardest hit, with streets turning to rivers as storms moved from southwest to northeast across the city, leaving vehicles submerged and businesses flooded.
Southwestern Ontario flooding and storms
August 23–25, 2023 – Over $110 million
Moisture associated with the remnants of Hurricane Hilary fed thunderstorms over southwestern Ontario between August 23 and 25, 2023. This led to a series of heavy storms, producing significant rainfall, multiple tornadoes and large hailstones. More than 200 millimeters of rain fell on some communities, resulting in flooded roads, basements and properties. Downed power lines left many hydro customers in the dark across southwestern Ontario, with roughly 5,000 customers losing power by noon on August 24.
IBC reminds consumers that damage caused by wind and rain is covered by standard home, commercial property and comprehensive auto insurance policies. If you have questions about home, auto or business insurance, speak with your insurance representative or call IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC (1-844-227-5422).
The insured damage estimates and event descriptions are provided by CatIQ (www.CatIQ.com) under licence to IBC.