Animal rescue relief work is undertaken amid flooding in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, a suburb of Montreal, April 29, 2019. Photographer: Sebastien St. Jean/AFP/Getty Images

Insurers paid close to C$208 million ($160 million) for damage to homes, buildings and vehicles hit by flooding made worse by climate change in eastern Canada this year, according to insurance companies.

Extreme weather across Canada is pushing insurable damage to more than C$1 billion a year, more than double the average of $400 million three decades ago, the Insurance Bureau of Canada said July 3.

One disaster would push annual figures significantly upward in the past whereas now the bureau is routinely seeing three or four weather events drive up claims, Vanessa Barrasa, spokeswoman for the bureau, said in an interview with Bloomberg Environment.

The total damage in 2018 went over C$2 billion, but it is still too early to tell whether 2019 will be worse, Barrasa said.

Warming Up

Canada is warming at twice the global average due to climate change and seeing higher rainfall instead of snow, a federal assessment of climate change impacts released in April said.

The risk of floods, wildfires, droughts, and heatwaves is expected to increase across the country, according to the Canada’s Changing Climate Report.

Almost 20,000 residents in Quebec, Ontario, and New Brunswick had to be evacuated after several major rivers from the Ottawa River to the Saint John River overflowed in April and May.

Several rounds of heavy rain and high temperatures that melted snowpack caused the flooding, the bureau said.

Infrastructure Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne fast-tracked applications to a C$2 billion disaster mitigation and adaptation fund during the floods and Quebec unveiled a new disaster relief fund to encourage residents to move away from flood-prone areas.

The Quebec program caps the total funds homeowners can access and includes measures to buy damaged homes, Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault said in an April statement.

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