Okanagan, Shuswap area wildfires cause over $720M in insured damage: IBC
October 19, 2023
By Insurance Bureau of Canada
This summer’s wildfires in the Okanagan (McDougall Creek) and Shuswap (Bush Creek East) have resulted in over $720 million in insured losses, according to initial estimates from Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ).
These wildfires are now the most costly insured event ever recorded in British Columbia and the tenth costliest in Canada’s history.
“This year’s wildfire season has broken all records in terms of the amount of land burned and damage caused to homes and businesses in BC,” said Aaron Sutherland, vice-president, Pacific and Western, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). “Our hearts go out to every individual and family who has been impacted by these wildfires, and to the firefighters who lost their lives helping to protect our communities. The wildfires’ impact is another tragic reminder of the risk BC residents face due to climate change and the increasing frequency of natural catastrophes.”
Combined, insured losses from the Bush Creek East and McDougall Creek wildfires this year far exceed the cost of the last major wildfire in Okanagan Mountain Park near Kelowna in 2003. That fire 20 years ago resulted in $200 million in insured damage.cc
“Canada’s insurers are here to help their customers rebuild following this devastating loss,” added Sutherland. “Wildfire damage is covered by all standard home and business insurance policies, and anyone who has been affected by these events or has questions about their coverage should call their insurance representative. They are there to help and to support consumers with recovery and reconstruction efforts. Anyone with general insurance questions can also contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC.”
Shuswap area – Bush Creek East Wildfire
August 18–September 25, 2023 – Over $240 million in insured damage
The Bush Creek East wildfire started in mid-July in B.C.’s Shuswap region. It burned in a relatively unpopulated area, until it started spreading rapidly in early and mid-August, and began racing through communities in North Shuswap, including Scotch Creek and Celista. The fire did extensive damage to properties in communities north of Shuswap Lake. More than 270 structures are confirmed to have been destroyed. In addition, the Bush Creek East wildfire caused extensive damage to public infrastructure, including damage to hydro poles that resulted in power outages for thousands of customers.
Most of the Bush Creek East wildfire’s destruction occurred during its 20-kilometre run through the North Shuswap region on August 18, 2023. Due to the fire’s rapid expansion, there was a dramatic increase in Evacuation Orders and Alerts, with about 3,500 properties subject to Evacuation Orders in the Shuswap region.
Okanagan area – McDougall Creek Wildfire
August 15–September 21, 2023 – Over $480 million in insured damage
The McDougall Creek, Clark Creek and Walroy Lake wildfires started in the central Okanagan Valley in mid-August 2023. Due to hot, dry and windy conditions, the three fires spread quickly, prompting widespread evacuations on both sides of Okanagan Lake. Structural damage was reported in the communities of West Kelowna, Kelowna and Lake Country, and many properties were completely destroyed.
In West Kelowna, officials confirmed that 70 homes were affected by the wildfires, and 20 were lost in Westbank First Nation. In Kelowna, three homes and two outbuildings were completely destroyed, with a further three being destroyed in Lake Country. In the areas of Traders Cove and Lake Okanagan Resort, an estimated 100 structures were completely destroyed. The Lake Okanagan Resort was also destroyed.
The amount of insured damage is an estimate provided by CatIQ (www.CatIQ.com) under licence to IBC.
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