Calgary

Severe weather insurance costs need to be tackled, industry group says

As insurance adjustors head out across Calgary to assess the damage from this week’s hailstorms, an official with the Insurance Bureau of Canada says it’s time to address the escalating price of severe weather.

Sturdier building methods could make storms less damaging and expensive

A powerful storm tore through Calgary on Tuesday, uprooting trees and causing flash flooding. Another storm struck the city on Wednesday night. (Mike Spenrath/CBC)

As insurance adjustors head out across Calgary to assess the damage from this week's hailstorms, an official with the Insurance Bureau of Canada says it's time to address the escalating price of severe weather.

Heather Mack, the bureau's director of government relations, says it's time to adapt to the new reality of increasing storms — especially in Alberta.

"These aren't freak events anymore, this is just sort of the way things are," she said.

"Alberta is getting hit particularly hard over the last few years."

She says because of that, home insurance companies keep changing their policies on deductibles and sub-limits.

"It's a very competitive marketplace," she said.

Mack says building methods for homes and infrastructure need to be re-considered to better prepare for future storms. 

"Are we building with strong-enough hail-resistant roofing, things like that," she said.

Alberta's flood of 2013 added up to as much as $1.8 billion in insured losses, but the province pegged the total cost of the disaster at $5 billion to $6 billion.

Much of that cost eventually falls to Ottawa, Mack says.

Federal spending on disasters has quadrupled over the last 20, 40 years, so it's having a severe budgetary impact for government, she says

"We have to look at how much that's costing, these unusual events are costing the provinces, the municipalities, the federal government — it's not sustainable," she said.

Chris Rechner, a spokesman for the Alberta Motor Association, says the phones have been ringing off the hook for roadside assistance.  But it's too early to put a price on how much it will cost.

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