Alberta wildfire set to be Canada's costliest natural disaster

Wed May 4, 2016 5:22pm EDT
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* Could become biggest catastrophic claim in Canada

* 1,600 structures already destroyed in wildfire

* Destruction worse than 2011 Slave Lake fire

* Intact shares down 4 percent, most exposed insurer

By Matt Scuffham

TORONTO, May 4 (Reuters) - A wildfire in the Alberta city of Fort McMurray is set to become the costliest ever Canadian natural disaster for insurers, with 1,600 buildings destroyed and another 19,000 under threat, analysts and industry sources say.

The bill for insurers is expected to be several times more than the C$700 million ($544 million) paid out for a wildfire in Slave Lake, Alberta, in 2011.

The fire in Slave Lake, a small town 250 km (155 miles)northwest of the city of Edmonton, led to the destruction of 374 homes, less than a quarter of the number of structures already destroyed at Fort McMurray, and damaged another 52.

"If you're looking at four times that of Slave Lake you're getting to well over C$2 billion ($1.6 billion) so there is a possibility that this may become the biggest catastrophic claim in Canada," said DBRS analyst Stewart McIlwraith.   Continued...