Just days after displaced residents were given access to their homes, torrential downpours have caused flash flooding on the streets of Fort McMurray.
A total of 47 millimetres have fallen on the flame-ravaged city, which was evacuated May 3 due to a massive series of wildfires known as the “Beast”, which destroyed roughly 10% of the city including 2,400 homes and other structures.
The wetter weather conditions have “increased hazardous conditions” within the city, according to Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, which urges people to stay away from burnt areas due to the threat of falling trees.
However, the fact that the city has already sustained great damage may be a silver lining for policyholders, as the extent of further damage has been minimized.
“It’s not a usual case of flood,” says George Hodgson, CEO of the Insurance Business Association of Alberta.
“Fort McMurray wasn’t fully operational, and now we have a flood – is a house that’s burnt down to the basement going to cost more now that it’s flooded? It’s hard to say.”
Lorri Frederick, COO of ClaimsPro, which has a location in Fort McMurray, says there hasn’t yet been a surge of flood claims.
“I think we have probably 5,000 claims on the fire side and so far we’re not seeing an uptick with the volume of insureds on the water,” she says. “People are assessing what they’re going to do, or even if they’re going to submit something based on when an adjustor actually comes out to follow up with them on their fire claims.
“People are probably talking to their brokers to find out what this means - is it a second claim on top of the first?” She adds for some, the situation may be complicated depending on whether there are apertures or other contributors that may have allowed a water situation that otherwise may not have occurred.
It remains to be seen whether the flooding will contribute significantly to the massive forest fire costs. A recent estimate from Aon Benfield says losses may total more than $4 billion.
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