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B.C.’s flooding was ‘most costly’ severe weather event ever for province: insurance experts

Insurance Bureau of Canada estimates $450 million in insured damage from recent flooding
Debris from receding flood waters is pictured along a road as heavy rains form an atmospheric river continue in Abbotsford, B.C., Nov. 30. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

Recent atmospheric river-induced flooding has caused $450 million in damage, estimates an insurance industry association.

Citing preliminary information from Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc., Insurance Bureau of Canada said in a news release that flooding in south-western areas of the province, which began with heavy rains Nov. 13 and led to unprecedented precipitation over the span of two weeks, could see this as “the most costly severe weather event in the province’s history.”

Mudslides, water damage to homes, farms and businesses, severe damage to major highways and infrastructure and loss of life came about because of the rains and floods. As a result transportation of goods was affected and a provincial state of emergency was declared. Given the scope of the damage, it is anticipated the total economic losses will be higher than the “insured loss figure,” the press release said.

“While the insurance damage stemming from these flood events is significant, the sad reality is that many residents impacted were located in high-risk flood areas and floodplains where flood insurance coverage is not available,” said Aaron Sutherland, bureau Pacific-Western area vice-president. “As a result, the overwhelming majority of costs for this disaster will be borne by government and taxpayers.”

The insurance bureau has been spearheading discussions with federal and provincial governments, the press release said, to examine ways to better protect communities and “better manage the costs of flooding for high-risk residential properties in Canada.”

Insurance Bureau of Canada is a member of the Canadian task force on flood insurance relocation, the press release said, and it has put forth options to create a residential flood insurance program, including a public-private partnership model that would make affordable insurance available to residents of high-risk areas.

Residents of B.C. have endured many natural disasters this year. Windstorms last January saw $134 million in insured damage and summer wildfires saw $155 million insured damage in addition to the $450 million in insured damage from the floods, the Insurance Bureau of Canada said.

RELATED: Nearly 300 still without power in flood-ravaged Merritt area

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Karl Yu

About the Author: Karl Yu

I joined Black Press in 2010 and cover education, court and RDN. I am a Ma Murray and CCNA award winner.
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