Ontario’s severe summer storms caused over $340 million in insured losses, bringing this year’s catastrophe tally to date to more than $3 billion.
Close to 25 per cent of the summer’s losses went toward replacing or repairing storm-damaged vehicles.
Laura Twidle, president and CEO of Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ), told Canadian Underwriter 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 this year. Catastrophes (Cats) are any weather-driven event that tops $30 million or more in insured losses. The previous record number of Cats in one year was 15, set in 2022.
As insurers tally outstanding claims from a record-setting wildfire season before the final quarter of the fiscal year closes out, it is expected the number will rise.
This summer, 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 news release.
“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.”
Five Ontario storms were designated as Cats this summer. Here are their insured damages:
Southwestern Ontario severe storms – Over $30 million
A cold front crossing southern Ontario and Quebec led to an outbreak of severe thunderstorms on July 20 and 21. 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 – Over $30 million
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 – Over $100 million
A summertime frontal system moving through southern Ontario sparked severe thunderstorms on August 3. 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 – Over $70 million
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/storms – Over $110 million
Moisture associated with the remnants of Hurricane Hilary fed thunderstorms over southwestern Ontario between August 23 and 25. 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 your policy, speak with your insurance broker or call IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC (1-844-227-5422).
Canadian Underwriter and Insurance Bureau of Canada