Albertans Urged to be Vigilant about Storms

Friday, June 14, 2013

Alberta snow stormAfter leaving a recent conference that the Insurance Bureau of Canada held for business owners throughout the country, home insurance very well may have been the first thing attendants reviewed upon arriving back at their residence.

Recently, governmental and business leaders gathered in Calgary for a meeting, discussing some of the effects the environment has had on home and business owners throughout the world. And while Canada has largely been spared from some of the most severe incidents that have occurred, the country is still at risk of encountering a major disaster - particularly in Alberta.

Alberta tends to be hit the hardest

Don Forgeron, IBC president and CEO, noted that given the climatic conditions in Alberta, it's gotten the brunt of the storm activity that's already occurred in Canada and will likely continue to bear this burden for the foreseeable future.

He also stated that one only has to look at the home insurance losses that have originated from the province to get an appreciation for the problem.

"Insured losses in Alberta have eclipsed those in other provinces - reaching hundreds of millions of dollars each year," said Forgeron. "And we can't forget that behind these statistics, are stories of injured residents, severely damaged and flooded houses, trees uprooted, cars smashed, businesses interrupted, roads washed out and communities reeling."

Between 2009 and 2012, IBC estimates that insurance losses averaged approximately $1 billion each year. However, during each of those years, Alberta was hit hardest, with the average property damage losses topping $670 million solely among effects that were insured.

A more detailed analysis provides further clarity. As noted by the IBC, a hail storm that battered Calgary and some of the surrounding towns resulted in claims costs in excess of $500 million. And just last year, sizeable hailstones resulted in an additional $530 million in damage totals.

Natural catastrophes have also led to the shutdown of business processes. In the run up to the busy holiday shopping season, provincial authorities were forced to prevent companies from opening their doors to patrons due to damaging, gale force winds.

Ability to stay apprised of weather conditions has never been easier

Though there are a variety of outlets Albertans can use to stay on top of the weather conditions, one of them can be found at the Government of Canada's website. It provides a seven-day forecast for the various towns within Alberta - such as what the temperature will be like and whether it will be overcast or sunny - as well as historical data, such as the amount of precipitation Alberta sees in June and what the max and minimum temperatures have been.

June 1 was the first day of hurricane season for 2013. Weather forecasters are predicting an above-average year for hurricane activity. According to the U.S.-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there is a 70 percent chance that between 13 and 20 storms will be significant enough to be named and between three and six of them could be classified as major.

Though Alberta rarely sees hurricane activity, the Atlantic Provinces can frequently be affected during the season, which lasts about six months.