Two years after Fort McMurray wildfire, 900 insurance claims remain unresolved

Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci said Wednesday afternoon the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire saw 25,499 residential property claims and 97 per cent have been settled as of May 10, 2018.

Anyone who hasn't received extension on claim should contact Alberta's superintendent of insurance

Finance Minister Joe Ceci delivered the latest numbers that show 97 per cent of Fort McMurray wildfire residential property insurance claims have been settled. (CBC)

Roughly 150 outstanding Fort McMurray wildfire insurance property claims have not been granted extensions beyond the two-year deadline, according to the Alberta government.

Ninety-seven per cent of 25,499 residential property claims filed after the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire had been settled as of May 10, Finance Minister Joe Ceci told a news conference Wednesday.

Of the remaining 900 unresolved claims, 85 per cent have been granted extensions, some for up to 12 months.

Ceci said the outstanding claims are the most complicated.

"I had the opportunity to visit Fort McMurray a couple of weeks ago to hear the concerns of residents and the Wood Buffalo mayor," Ceci said.

"And I heard loud and clear that our work in Wood Buffalo was not done."

The province announced in April it would not grant a one-year extension to residents with outstanding claims.

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo wrote a letter asking for the extra time for residents who were struggling with the magnitude and complexity of claims.

Alberta's Insurance Act gives residents a two-year window within which they can settle wildfire claims.

Providing an extension would require the province to amend the act and would also affect the insurers that underwrite insurance companies.

Some 'still need our help'

The Fort McMurray wildfire is considered Canada's most expensive insured disaster. The Insurance Bureau of Canada expects to pay out $3.7 billion in wildfire-related insurance claims to policyholders in the Wood Buffalo region.

In addition to the 25,499 residential property claims, 4,151 commercial claims and 14,444 automobile claims were filed.

"We recognize that there may be some who still need our help," said Bill Adams, Western Canada vice-president with the insurance bureau.

"So our focus is not on the good work that has been done thus far. It remains with our customers with outstanding claims and working with them to finalize those claims."

The province and the insurance bureau said the majority of policyholders with outstanding claims that haven't been granted an extension should have sued their insurance companies to preserve their rights.

But anyone who hasn't filed a statement of claim should contact the superintendent of insurance for more information. Write to tbf.insurance@gov.ab.ca or 780-643-2237 in Edmonton, or dial 310-0000 toll-free in Alberta and then dial 780-643-2237.

Follow David Thurton, CBC's Fort McMurray correspondent, on Facebook and Twitter, or email him at david.thurton@cbc.ca

About the Author

David Thurton

David Thurton is CBC's mobile journalist in Fort McMurray. He's worked for CBC in the Maritimes & in Canada's Arctic. Email: david.thurton@cbc.ca