British Columbia

B.C. windstorm cost insurers $37M for loss to homes, businesses, vehicles

The cost of damages to homes, businesses and vehicles from the Dec. 20 windstorm that shook the South Coast of B.C. totalled more than $37 million, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

Costs due to extreme weather rising across the country, according to Insurance Bureau

A tree was felled in the Maple Ridge area on Dec. 20, 2018 due to a powerful windstorm. (Shane Mackichan )

The cost of damages to homes, businesses and vehicles from the Dec. 20 windstorm that shook the South Coast  of B.C. totalled more than $37 million, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada. 

The storm knocked down large trees and power poles, leaving over 750,000 customers without power, some of them through Christmas. Over 3,000 homes were damaged, boats were scattered and the pier in White Rock was cut in half.

Aaron Sutherland, with the Insurance Bureau of Canada, says that storm is part of the nearly $1.9 billion of damages caused by extreme weather across Canada in 2018. 

Sutherland says it's part of a trend of rising costs due to extreme weather. For example, before 2009, the annual costs to insurers for damages from extreme weather in Canada was only $300 to $400 million. 

"It's evidence to us that the financial impact of our changing climate is rising and should be a wake-up call to all of us that we need to do much more to improve our resiliency to these kinds of events," Sutherland said. 

Prevention emphasized

The bureau says it's working with all levels of government to advocate for increased investment to mitigate the effects of extreme weather.

Those changes could include investments in infrastructure to protect communities from floods and fires, improvement to building codes and a shift to developing homes and businesses away from areas of highest risk.

Sutherland says individuals can also take action. He says they should do more to prepare their homes for extreme weather by clearing debris from storm drains and gutters to mitigate damages.

With files from Cory Correia and The Canadian Press

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