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Wicked November storm cost Ontarians at least $87 million, insurers say

Monday, December 14th 2020, 4:40 pm - As high as insuranced losses are, they don't include the storm's total costs to homeowners and governments.

A wicked mid-November wind storm that swept through southern Ontario inflicted around $87 million in insured damages – though the cost to Ontarians is likely considerably higher.

That's according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), which released the figures Monday.

The IBC says the November 15th windstorm also left more than 540,000 homes without power at the peak, almost a tenth of which were still in the dark two days later.

The storm was a powerful one, with wind gusts exceeding 100 km/h in some areas. Localized flooding was reported not only from passing thunderstorms, but also along the shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, where the winds drove the waters inland in what meteorologists call a "seiche."

At least one tornado was produced from this storm: a high-end EF-0 tornado with winds as high as 135 km/h.

That tornado tore a path through northern Georgetown, in the northern edge of the Greater Toronto Area, damaging several homes, though no injuries were reported.

Tornado season typically runs from May to September in Ontario, but tornadoes can form at any time of the year provided the conditions are right. That particular twister was Ontario's 42nd of the 2020 tornado season, which has so far seen more than three times the provincial average and by far the most in Canada this year.

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$87 million is a hefty price tag on its own, but Kim Donaldson, the IBC's vice-president for Ontario, says that's just the cost to insurers. The storm's total costs, Donaldson says, will be much higher when uninsured costs, and the cost to taxpayers to repair damaged infrastructure, are factored in, to say nothing of the personal cost to homeowners who've had their property damaged or lost entirely.

Donaldson says severe weather events such as the November storm are happening more frequently, and people need to prepare.

β€œIt is important that property owners take precautions to minimize potential damage and protect their properties,” Donaldson says. β€œThey should also understand their insurance policies and know whether they have overland flood coverage.”

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