UPDATE 2-Alberta wildfires Canada's costliest-ever natural disaster -report
(Adds comments from call, background on wildfire insurance, analyst comment)
By Catherine Ngai
CALGARY, July 7 (Reuters) - Insured losses from the May wildfires in Fort McMurray, Alberta, are expected to total C$3.58 billion ($2.76 billion), making it the costliest-ever Canadian natural disaster, an insurance industry group said on Thursday.
The losses far exceed those from the Alberta floods of 2013, which cost about C$1.7 billion in claims, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) said in a report.
It noted that the biggest previous insurance loss from a wildfire had been C$700 million from one in Slave Lake, Alberta, in 2011.
The wildfires in the oil sands hub of Fort McMurray forced the evacuation of some 90,000 residents, shuttered numerous oil sands operations and cut Canada's crude output by more than 1 million barrels a day.
While most of the oil sands operations have returned to normal rates, rebuilding efforts for thousands of homes in Fort McMurray, along with the insurance payout, are expected to take months or even years.
"In terms of a timeline, it really depends on how long the rebuilding process takes," said Bill Adams, an IBC vice president.
Adams added that in the Slave Lake wildfire, it took nearly two years to rebuild some 400 homes destroyed. But Fort McMurray, where more than 2,400 properties were destroyed, represents an "unprecedented challenge." Continued...