Summer storms bring total Cat damages past $3 billion

Lightning strike during summer storms

A series of summer storms in Ontario caused over $340 million in insured losses, bringing this years’ total catastrophe losses to date to over $3 billion, with another calendar quarter left. 

Laura Twidle, president and CEO of Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ), tells Canadian Underwriter insured losses are now over $3 billion for the year so far. This means we’re quickly catching up with 2022’s $3.1 billion insured loss year, the third-highest total of NatCat losses in the nation’s history. 

The industry can also expect a record-setting number of catastrophes. Canada has seen at least 23 catastrophes this year, Joel Baker, president and CEO of MSA Research shared with delegates at at the National Insurance Conference Canada (NICC) in September. Catastrophes are any weather-driven event that tops $30 million or more in insured losses, as defined by Cat IQ.  

The previous record number of Cats in one year was 15, set in 2022.  

As insurers tally outstanding claims from wildfires, and with another quarter left before the fiscal year closes out, the industry can expect this number to rise.  

 

Ontario summer storms 

Summer storms and flash floods that hit parts of Ontario caused over $340 million in insured losses, according to initial CatIQ estimates. A quarter of these insured losses ($80 million) went toward replacing or repairing storm-damaged vehicles.  

The Ottawa region was hardest hit, with intense flash flooding, torrential downpours and violent wind gusts, Amanda Dean, interim vice president, Ontario, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) said in a release. 

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Five Ontario storms were designated as Cats this summer. 

First, there was over $30 million in insured damage caused by severe storms in Southwestern Ontario on July 20-21. A cold front crossed southern Ontario and Quebec, and led to an outbreak of severe thunderstorms, which produced wind gusts, including two confirmed tornadoes near South Buxton and Petrolia.  

Hail and downpours caused flooding for homes and businesses, and a microburst in Sarnia caused significant damage, including downed trees, power lines, damaged outdoor furniture and fences. 

Next, a period of hot, humid weather caused severe thunderstorms to cross southern Ontario July 28–29. Multiple supercell thunderstorms developed and hit the Ottawa region, which was also afflicted by hail. Meanwhile, strong winds downed trees in Windsor, and heavy downpours led to flash flooding across the province. Damages totalled over $30 million.  

On Aug. 3, summertime thunderstorm caused over $100 million in insured damaged across southern Ontario. The frontal system created violent wind gusts, torrential downpours and hail. Lindsay and Ottawa were among the most significantly impacted regions, where under-construction homes got knocked down. Trees, power lines and vehicles were damaged, or partially submerged by flooding.  

Then, Ottawa was hit by a cold front on Aug. 10, which caused $70 million in insured damage. Thunderstorms and rain fall targeted parts of the city. Nepean and Carson Grove were the hardest hit. Streets flooded across the city, leaving vehicles submerged and businesses flooded. 

Lastly, Aug. 23-25 saw over $110 million in southwestern Ontario flooding and storms. Tornadoes, hail, rainfall and heavy storms — remnants of Hurricane Hilary — downed power lines and left nearly 5,000 customers without power.  

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Feature image by iStock.com/Slavic