The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has published initial estimates from Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ) showing that this summer’s wildfires near Yellowknife and Hay River, Northwest Territories resulted in more than $60-million in insured losses.

“The wildfire in Behchokǫ̀-Yellowknife saw one of the largest evacuation efforts ever recorded in Canada, with approximately 20,000 individuals forced from their homes for about three weeks,” the IBC states. "Wildfire damage is covered by all standard home and business insurance policies, and anyone who has not yet reported a loss or has questions about their coverage should call their insurance representative.” 

The IBC adds that this wildfire season set new records in terms of the amount of land burned and damage caused to personal and commercial property. “As the frequency and severity of weather events such as wildfires continue to increase, we need to take immediate action to fund and rapidly implement Canada’s first National Adaptation Strategy (NAS),” says Craig Stewart, vice president of climate change and federal issues with the IBC.

The association adds that the federal government needs to invest at least $5.3-billion annually in the NAS over the next six years. “Canada can better prepare for increasingly severe wildfires by immediately mapping communities at high risk of wildfire and funding the development of a wildfire community action plans in these areas.” 

The Hay River wildfire, which burned August 13 until September 16, caused more than $30-million in insured damage. “The 4,000 residents of Hay River and the surrounding area, the community of Enterprise and K'atl'odeeche First Nation Reserve were ordered to evacuate on August 13. Over three quarters of the structures in Enterprise were destroyed,” the IBC writes.

Similarly, the Behchokǫ̀-Yellowknife fire, after burning from August 16 until September 6, also caused more than $30-million in insured damage.