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Storm-related claims becoming more expensive for insurance industry

Golf carts and equipment are high and dry in the middle of a golf course on the Siksika First Nation East of Calgary where a boil-water advisory is in effect long the Bow River after one of the biggest floods in Alberta history.

JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Water damage insurance claims are becoming more expensive to cover, according to property and casualty insurer Aviva Canada Inc.

The average cost of a water damage claim climbed by 130 per cent in the last decade to $20,537, the company said Tuesday.

Aviva attributes the increase to investments homeowners are making in upgrading their dwellings, as well as troubles caused by older infrastructure.

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"The increasing investment Canadians are putting into their basements … and an aging sewer system that is unable to deal with large amounts of water within a short time period, results in a lot of homes experiencing damage," said Wayne Ross, vice president of property claims for Aviva Canada, in a statement.

Aviva paid out more than $190-million in water damage claims last year, which was up nearly 70 per cent over 2012. It set a company record in Canada.

Water damage hit the entire Canadian insurance industry hard last year as flooding from storms in Alberta and Southern Ontario drove up costs. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) said claims on the industry reached $3.2-billion last year – that's about twice the next highest year on record.

"The flooding in Alberta and Toronto certainly played a big part in the increase, but the general trend is upward," said Wayne Ross, vice president of property claims for Aviva Canada, in a statement. "And as severe weather events are growing in frequency, we expect to see more situations like this in the future."

As catastrophic weather events become more numerous, insurance companies have begun to react. Some have taken steps such as hiking premiums and increasing deductible limits for coverage.

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About the Author
Financial Services Reporter

Jacqueline Nelson is a financial services reporter at the Report on Business. Prior to that she was a staff writer at Canadian Business magazine, covering news and writing features on a wide variety of subjects. More

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