The Insurance Bureau of Canada said Thursday that the damage caused by the Fort McMurray wildfires reached an estimate of $3.58 billion, making it the largest insured catastrophe in Canadian history.

IBC, along with the Catastrophe Indices and Quantifications (CatIQ), provided a breakdown of the losses and claims filed:

  • Personal property: 27,000 claims; $81,000 average claim
  • Commercial property: 5,000 claims; $250,000 average claim
  • Auto: 12,000 claims; $15,000 average claim

“This wildfire, and the damage it caused, is more alarming evidence that extreme weather events have increased in both frequency and severity in Canada,” said Don Forgeron, President and CEO of IBC.

The second most expensive natural catastrophe in this country’s history came in 2013, also in Alberta, when insurance costs in the southern Alberta floods were 1.7 billion.

“As a country, we need to take a more disciplined and sustained approach to helping prepare Canadians for fires and floods,” Forgeron said. “We must build a more resilient country to better protect those affected by the very real impacts of our changing climate. By taking action now, we can minimize costs to taxpayers and better equip homeowners for the risks and challenges that lie ahead."

The fires in May forced the evacuation of almost 90,000 residents from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and destroyed about 2,400 homes and other buildings.

People have since been allowed back into the community, but it took nearly two months before a state of emergency could be lifted.

With files from The Canadian Press.