Behchokǫ̀-Yellowknife, Hay River wildfires cause over $60M in insured damage: IBC
November 23, 2023
By Insurance Bureau of Canada
This summer’s wildfires near Yellowknife and Hay River, N.W.T., resulted in over $60 million in insured losses, according to initial estimates from Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ).
The wildfire in Behchokǫ̀-Yellowknife saw one of the largest evacuation efforts ever recorded in Canada, with approximately 20,000 individuals forced from their homes for about three weeks. “Our thoughts are with everyone whose lives were disrupted and whose property was damaged or destroyed,” said Rob de Pruis, national director, consumer and industry relations, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). “Those wildfires could have been much worse, and we owe a debt of gratitude to the firefighters and first responders who helped to protect lives and property.”
“Canada’s insurers are still working diligently to help their customers repair and rebuild following this devastating loss,” added de Pruis. “Wildfire damage is covered by all standard home and business insurance policies, and anyone who has not yet reported a loss or has questions about their coverage should call their insurance representative. Insurers are available to help and support residents with recovery and reconstruction efforts. Anyone with general insurance questions can also contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC.”
As the impact of climate change grows, Canadians are experiencing more frequent and severe weather events – including floods, wildfires, heatwaves and windstorms. The federal government has laid the foundation for an effective response in the National Adaptation Strategy (NAS), which was announced mid-year as a way of shoring up Canada’s defences against climate change.
“This wildfire season set new records in terms of the amount of land burned and damage caused to personal and commercial property,” said Craig Stewart, vice-president of climate change and frederal issues, IBC. “No part of the country was spared, including communities in the Northwest Territories. As the frequency and severity of weather events such as wildfires continue to increase, we need to take immediate action to fund and rapidly implement Canada’s first National Adaptation Strategy.”
The federal government needs to invest at least $5.3 billion annually in the NAS over the next six years. IBC and its member insurers have been working with federal and provincial governments to set achievable targets in the NAS. For example, Canada can better prepare for increasingly severe wildfires by immediately mapping communities at high risk of wildfire and funding the development of wildfire community action plans in these areas.
“Stable and predictable funding will, among other things, empower Canadian communities to better assess their vulnerability to growing climate threats and invest in more resilient infrastructure,” added Stewart.
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