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Extreme weather causing billions of dollars in damage, driving up insurance premiums: StatsCan

The increasing frequency of extreme weather events across the country has caused the sums paid out annually for catastrophic insurance claims to explode — and annual payouts for the last four years now rank among the ten largest on record, says a new Statistics Canada study.

«Homeowners have been particularly affected by extreme weather claims, with recent hurricanes, floods and unprecedented wildfires,» says the report, released Wednesday.

«Insured claims costs were $3.4 billion in 2022 and $3.1 billion in 2023, each more than 50 per cent above the yearly average.»

The report says that between 1983 — the first year catastrophic insurance claims were tracked — and 2008, insurers paid out an average of $400 million per year. From 2009 to 2023, that yearly average rose to almost $2 billion.

«These 'once in 100 years' events are happening more frequently and are becoming more severe and more costly,» the report says.

The report also says that for almost the entire period from the beginning of 2020 to the end of 2023, homeowner insurance premiums in Canada increased at a rate higher than inflation.

Despite those higher payments, Statistics Canada says insurance companies' «profitability has not wavered significantly and is consistent with historical trends.»

The report says that returns on equity for the insurance industry ranged from 5.6 per cent at the beginning of 2020 to 25.7 per cent by the end of that year. In 2023, returns dropped down to near the «long run average» of 10.1 per cent, the report says.

«At the end of the day, insurers are remaining viable only because premiums have gone up,» Craig Stewart, vice-president of climate change and federal issues at the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), told CBC News.

«What it means

Read more on cbc.ca