For the second year in a row, Canada exceeded $3 billion in insured damage from natural catastrophes and severe weather events. Nationally, insured damage for severe weather events reached over $3.1 billion in 2023, according to Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ).
In fact, 2023 is now the fourth-worst year for insured losses in Canada. This grim statistic highlights the financial costs of a changing climate to insurers, governments and taxpayers. While 2023 was a record-breaking year for wildfires, flooding also continued to cause destruction in nearly every region across Canada.
After surveying insurers, IBC sees no change in the availability or affordability of wildfire insurance coverage across the country. However, as a result of escalating losses and revised risk modelling, Canada is viewed now as a riskier place to insure. Consequently, numerous Canadians cannot access flood insurance. It is also becoming harder for some households to obtain insurance for earthquakes and related hazards.
“The federal government committed to a national flood insurance program in last year’s Federal Budget. However, progress has stalled, leaving too many Canadians vulnerable to the effects of our changing climate,” said Craig Stewart, Vice-President, Climate Change and Federal Issues, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). “Once launched, this program would provide Canadians living in high-risk areas with affordable financial protection and peace of mind when a flood strikes. Details of the program must be shared with our industry and the provinces this winter if it’s to be operational before the next federal election.”
“Canada’s property and casualty insurance industry has offered to support a comprehensive and cost-neutral flood insurance program that will replace costly Disaster Financial Assistance and save governments and taxpayers money. After seven years of study, government officials and home insurance professionals agree on this solution. Canadians now need the federal government to move forward with this program and announce details in the 2024 Federal Budget. The homes and financial health of over 1.5 million Canadians are at high and growing risk.”
Noteworthy severe weather events last year include the Atlantic Canada cold snap; Ontario and Quebec spring ice storm; the Tantallon, Nova Scotia, wildfire; Nova Scotia flooding; Prairies summer storms; the Winnipeg hailstorm; Ontario severe summer storms; the Okanagan and Shuswap, BC, area wildfires; and the Behchokǫ̀-Yellowknife and Hay River, NWT, wildfires.
Insured Damage for Severe Weather Events in 2023
February 3–5: Atlantic Canada cold snap – $120 million
April 5–6: Ontario and Quebec spring ice storm – $330 million
May 28–June 4: Tantallon, Nova Scotia, wildfire – $165 million
June 18–July 26: Prairies summer storms – $300 million
July 20–August 25: Ontario severe summer storms – $340 million
July 23: Nova Scotia flooding – $170 million
August 13–September 16: Behchokǫ̀-Yellowknife and Hay River, NWT, wildfires – $60 million
August 15–September 25: Okanagan and Shuswap area wildfires – $720 million
August 24: Winnipeg hailstorm – $140 million
Canada’s Top 10 Highest Insured Severe-Weather Loss Years on Record (loss and adjusted expenses in 2022 dollars)
“The increasing frequency and severity of climate-related disasters should be of concern to all Canadians, even if they have yet to be directly affected,” added Stewart.
With today’s extreme weather events, insured catastrophic losses in Canada now routinely exceed $2 billion annually, and most of it is due to water-related damage. Over the last decade, there have been more than 35 catastrophic flooding events across Canada in which insured losses exceeded $30 million per flood. Total insured losses from these events have averaged close to $800 million annually over the last decade.
Insured damage trends, including 2023’s towering total, will feature prominently at CatIQ Connect – Canada’s premiere catastrophe conference. CatIQ Connect hosts a content-driven discussion to foster collaboration before, during and after catastrophic events. Stakeholders from industry, government and academia delve into detailed overviews of catastrophes, discuss strategies in catastrophe management and explore sector perspectives. Overall themes are preparedness, resilience, available tools and cross-sector collaboration for the greater good of all Canadians.
About Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc.
Toronto-based CatIQ is a subsidiary of Zurich-based PERILS AG and delivers detailed analytical and meteorological information on Canadian natural and human-made catastrophes.
Through its online subscription-based platform, CatIQ combines comprehensive insured loss and exposure indices and other related information to better serve the needs of insurance/reinsurance/ILS industries, the public sector and other stakeholders.
CatIQ was established in 2014 with the support of the overwhelming majority of the Canadian insurance and reinsurance industry and is widely recognized as the most reliable source of catastrophe loss information in Canada. For more information, please visit https://public.catiq.com/.