IBC: Slave Lake Fires Second Costliest Insured Disaster in Canadian History

EDMONTON, July 5, 2011 – Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) reports that the insured damage caused by wildfires that ravaged much of the town of Slave Lake, Alberta, in May amounts to more than $700 million, making it the second costliest insured disaster in Canadian history. The most expensive insured disaster in Canadian history remains the ice storm that hit Quebec and Ontario in 1998, which cost over $1.8 billion (figure adjusted for inflation).

The $700 million is a preliminary estimate reported by Property Claim Services Canada (PCS-Canada), a service that tracks insured losses arising from catastrophic events in Canada. Data collected by PCS-Canada confirms that several thousands of claims have been filed for damage to homes, cars and businesses in the wake of the fires.

“The scale of the destruction to homes and property is incredible,” said Doug Noble, Vice-President, Alberta and the North, IBC. “It’s devastating for those who have been affected.”

He added: “Insurance companies were at the evacuation centres within 36 hours of the fire to help affected residents, and the industry will continue to help the community to recover in the months ahead.”

Immediately after the fire hit Slave Lake, IBC deployed its Community Assistance Mobile Pavilion (CAMP) to evacuation centres in Alberta to assist residents and businesses by offering on-site, insurance-related information. Many insurance companies also brought in extra staff, some from out of province, to start issuing cheques to residents to cover their daily needs and to begin processing claims immediately. The entire recovery process may still take more time than usual because of the extent of the claims and the availability of skilled trades and labour for demolition and rebuilding.

If consumers have questions, they are urged to contact their brokers, agents or insurance company representatives, or IBC’s Consumer Information Centre in Alberta at 1-800-377-6378 (Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.).

Data about Slave Lake is from PCS Canada. Subscribers to the PCS Canada service can access detailed reports of this event by logging in to www.pcs-canada.com.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada

Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, car and business insurers. Its member companies represent 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. The P&C insurance industry employs over 114,000 Canadians, pays more than $7 billion in taxes to the federal, provincial and municipal governments, and has a total premium base of $40 billion.

To view media releases and information, visit the media section of IBC’s website at www.ibc.ca.