An atmospheric river event that led to significant flooding in parts of Nova Scotia on July 23, 2023, is estimated to have caused over $170 million in insured damage, according to initial estimates from Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ). This severe weather event produced more than 250 millimeters of rain in the hardest hit areas, most of that in fewer than 24 hours, leading to a provincial state of emergency, significant damage to infrastructure, and flooding to homes and businesses.
“Homes, cars and businesses can be replaced and repaired, but first and foremost our thoughts continue to be with those who lost loved ones due to the flooding,” said Graham Little, interim vice-president of the Atlantic Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers. “To residents who suffered insured property losses, Canada’s insurers are here to support you with the recovery and rebuilding. Our member insurers are working diligently to service a large number of claims, not only from this flooding event, but also from the recent wildfires. We ask for your patience and that you work closely with your insurance representative. They are on your side and committed to helping you through this event.”
IBC has also created a webpage, Nova Scotia Floods, which provides additional insurance information to help affected residents understand insurance coverage and the various stages of the claims process.
“The availability of overland flood insurance remains limited in high-risk flood-prone areas, and sadly, many of the properties damaged or destroyed by this event will be uninsured,” said Craig Stewart, vice-president of Climate Change and Federal Issues at IBC. “The reality is the total losses for this event will be significantly higher than the insured losses, largely due to the number of uninsured properties, as well as damage to public infrastructure.”
Insured severe weather damage in Canada now routinely exceeds $2 billion annually, with water-related damage responsible for most of the losses. Over the last decade, there have been 35 catastrophic flooding events across Canada in which insured losses exceeded $30 million per flood. Total insured losses from these events averaged close to $800 million annually over the last decade. IBC continues to work in close collaboration with the federal government, provinces and territories to improve Canada’s climate defence and build Canada’s resilience to climate change.
“There are still over 1.5 million households in Canada that remain highly exposed to flooding and lack access to flood insurance,” added Stewart. “The increasing frequency and severity of flooding in this country has been in plain sight for years, and that is why IBC has been spearheading advocacy for investments in climate adaptation, including a national flood insurance program. We’ve seen the trends. We’ve witnessed the cost of inaction. The Trudeau government must kick into high gear to reduce the risk Canadians and their communities face.”
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