Two years after the devastating Wood Buffalo wildfire, government and the insurance industry continue to work together to ensure no resident is left behind.
As of May 10, 97 per cent of the residential insurance claims resulting from the disaster have been settled, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). This means about 900 residential claims remain unresolved, of which 85 per cent have received an extension.
The Insurance Act sets out a two-year deadline for property claims to be settled. All insurance companies have been granting extensions on a case-by case basis, some up to 12 months.
“The Wood Buffalo wildfire was one of the most catastrophic natural disasters in Canadian history, with almost 88,000 people uprooted in the evacuation. I am very encouraged by the response from the insurance companies serving the residents of Wood Buffalo. I commend these companies for their willingness to take a more flexible approach to helping those affected by this disaster.”
~Joe Ceci, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance
When an extension is granted beyond the statutory two-year limitation, affected residents can continue to resolve their claims. As a last resort, they can file a court action to preserve their legal rights.
The original deadline to settle claims was early May. However, the majority of residents with unresolved claims have been granted an extension or have filed a court action. If any resident has not been granted an extension on their claim or started a court action, they are encouraged to contact the Superintendent of Insurance for more information.
“Our government is committed to standing with the residents of the Wood Buffalo region. Fort McMurray’s recovery remains a priority for the Government of Alberta, and we continue to support the region with a focus on occupational health and safety, consumer protection, flood and fire mitigation, and overall health and wellness for residents.”
~Shaye Anderson, Minister of Municipal Affairs
“For the many residents who still face complex challenges with open insurance claims, this is a positive step and I thank the Government of Alberta for their support. I encourage anyone with an outstanding insurance claim to contact their insurance company immediately to find out if they are willing to provide an extension, and if they experience any difficulty, they should contact Alberta’s Superintendent of Insurance. I would also encourage them to contact a lawyer about filing a statement of claim to preserve their rights.”
~Don Scott, mayor, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
“The Wood Buffalo wildfire was the largest insured disaster in Canadian history. Insurers continue to work with their customers to rebuild not just homes, but a community. While the vast majority of claims are resolved, insurers remain committed to working with their customers to resolve outstanding claims during what has been a difficult period for many. Voluntarily providing extensions to those with open claims after the two-year limitation mark is yet another demonstration of insurers’ commitment to those affected by this unprecedented event.”
~Bill Adams, Insurance Bureau of Canada
- As of May 10, 97 per cent of residential property claims have been settled.
- Approximately 900 claims remain open, of which about 85 per cent have been granted an extension.
- Insurance companies are expected to pay out $3.7 billion to Wood Buffalo policyholders as a result of the wildfire. In all, there were 25,499 residential property claims, 4,151 commercial claims and 14,444 automobile claims filed.
- Under the Insurance Act, insurance claims have a two-year statutory limitation period from the day the loss occurred or from when the policyholder ought reasonably to have known of their loss, to reach a settlement. If claimants are unable to settle before the deadline, they can preserve their rights by asking the insurer for an extension or by filing a statement of claim in court. Those who have received an extension can also file a court action to preserve their rights past the extended limitation period.
- The 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire began on May 1, 2016 and the vast majority of private property damage occurred in the first few days.
- For more information, contact the Superintendent of Insurance, firstname.lastname@example.org or 780-643-2237 in Edmonton, or dial 310-0000 toll-free in Alberta and then dial 780-643-2237.