Severe Alberta summer storms may drive up insurance costs

The severe summer storms in Alberta have made 2012 a costly year for insurance companies.

Insurers paid out $550M for Calgary hail storm in August

Hail the size of golf balls pelted Calgary in mid-August. (Courtesy of Remington Clarke)

Three severe storms in Alberta this past July and August have cost insurance companies millions of dollars.

A report from the Insurance Bureau of Canada estimates the hail storm that hit Calgary on Aug. 13 cost $550 million.

"It has been a very expensive summer for insurance companies, especially with the hail in Calgary in August. That accounts for almost half of the insured losses from severe weather in Canada for the entire year," said Heather Mack from the IBC.

Another storm that hit southern Alberta on July 27 cost insurers $74 million in damage claims.

The mayor of Cardston, Alta., said Wednesday that people in his town are still making repairs from that storm.

"The big issue now is the roofing. I think we're half done as a community," said Rick Schow.

Mack says Albertans can likely expect insurance premium hikes, which usually follow large payouts.

Weather trend

The IBC says extreme weather has caused more than $1 billion of damage annually in Canada, for three of the last four years.

Mack calls it a worrying trend.

"We don't get into why, that's not our area of expertise. We're just saying we know from industry experience that something has changed and we have new weather patterns." 

Mack says Alberta has always had the majority of hail claims in the country but she says there is a change in the severity and frequency of those claims.