2023 B.C. wildfires most costly insured event ever recorded: insurance bureau

This summer’s wildfires in the Okanagan and Shuswap caused almost three-quarters of a billion dollars in insured losses, according to the latest estimate by a national insurance bureau.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada says that the new estimate from Catastrophe Indices and Quantification makes the fires the most costly insured event ever recorded in B.C., and the 10th costliest in Canada’s history.

The combined losses from the Bush Creek East and McDougall Creek wildfires totalled $720 million dollars, according to the bureau.

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“This year’s wildfire season has broken all records in terms of the amount of land burned and damage caused to homes and businesses in BC,” said Aaron Sutherland, IBC Vice-President of Pacific and Western, in a statement.

“Our hearts go out to every individual and family who has been impacted by these wildfires, and to the firefighters who lost their lives helping to protect our communities. The wildfires’ impact is another tragic reminder of the risk B.C. residents face due to climate change and the increasing frequency of natural catastrophes.”

It notes that the last devastating fire near Kelowna in 2003 resulted in $200 million in insured damage.

The McDougall Creek wildfire, which burned from Aug. 15 through to Sept. 21, caused over $480 million in insured damages alone, the ICB says.

Almost 200 homes were affected by that wildfire, with an estimated 100 being completely destroyed in the areas of Traders Cove and the Lake Okanagan Resort.

Wildfires are expected to continue to be a constant in B.C.’s future summers due to the human-caused climate crisis.

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