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The Top 5 Canadian Catastrophes of 2013

PCS Canada defines a “catastrophe” as an event that caused $25 million or more in direct insured losses to property and that affects “a significant number of policyholders and insurers.”

5. APRIL 11 – 14 | WINTER STORM

Though this event caused $45 million in insured losses, Bob Fitzgerald, president of ClaimsPro, says many of his clients—who are predominantly insurance companies—did not define this event as a catastrophe internally. “In the April event we saw about 350 losses,” he explains. “We work with almost all insurers in Canada. So if you look at 350 [claims], and everybody got their representative percentage, that’s not a lot of files.”

4. MAY 28 – JUNE 2 | FLOODING, WIND AND THUNDERSTORM EVENT

“It’s interesting, because we have a threshold. We track claim counts over 250. [This storm] did not hit our radar,” says Wayne Ross, vice-president, national property claims at Aviva Canada. ClaimsPro’s Fitzgerald says his company saw 450 claims from the storm across all insurer partners.

3. JULY 19 | FLOODING, HAIL, WIND AND THUNDERSTORM EVENT 

For FirstOnSite Restoration, the majority of its claims occurred in the Hamilton/St. Catherines/Niagara,Ont. region. Sean Hobson, senior vice-president, sales, at FirstOnSite, says winds of 150-160 km/h were recorded in some areas, resulting in a lot of downed trees and damaged roofs. The restoration company handled roughly 200 claims in Ontario and Quebec. ClaimsPro saw 900 claims from this event, primarily in Quebec. Fitzgerald says where and when this storm hit played a large role in the company’s high claims count. “It happened on the back of the GTA floods, so the capacity of the industry had been strained.” In order to quickly serve claimants, Fitzgerald explains, insurers had to rely on independent adjusters to respond to claims that otherwise could have been handled internally.

The key to [dealing with catastrophes] is outward and proactive communication…and when you do have someone you’re communicating with, [have] a certain level of empathy for what they’re going through. We’ve had clients who are 60-year-old men, they are the gruffest of the gruff, and they’re on the phone to you crying because they don’t know what to do and they don’t know what the future looks like. – Lee Rogers, president of Rogers Insurance

2. JULY 8 – 9 | FLOODING, WIND AND THUNDERSTORM EVENT 

In the first week and a half after the Greater Toronto Area floods, Hobson says FirstOnSite saw 1500 claims come in, and the company handled roughly 900 in total. “There were some basements we were seeing that were six-feet flooded—six feet of water just being rushed in through the windows and [the] sewers,” he says. He adds, “We’re still scheduled into 2014 to complete jobs.”

1. JUNE 19 – 24 | FLOODING, HAIL, WIND EVENT

Lee Rogers, president of Calgary-based brokerage Rogers Insurance, says the southern Alberta floods are the largest catastrophe loss his brokerage has ever dealt with. “I think our biggest loss anticipated for a customer will be in excess of $15 million,” he says. “We’ve got restaurants that have losses that will exceed $3 million. We have manufacturers with $8 million losses. We have real estate companies with $5 million losses. We have condominiums with $5-million-plus losses. It just goes on and on.”

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Copyright 2014 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the January 2014 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine

Transcontinental Media G.P.