Deadlines have been extended for hundreds of insurance claims that remain unresolved more than two years after a wildfire dubbed “The Beast” tore through Fort McMurray and surrounding areas in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
“This is unprecedented, not just for the people of Wood Buffalo, but for our industry,” Bill Adams, with the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said Wednesday.
“We’ve never dealt with an event nearly of this magnitude.”
With $3.7-billion in insured damage, the bureau has pegged the fire as the costliest disaster in Canadian history.
Legislation sets out a two-year limit for insurance claims to be resolved, meaning the deadline for affected Wood Buffalo residents passed earlier this month.
Normally, that would be more than enough time, Adams said. But insurers had to be flexible in fire’s aftermath.
“Individual insurers recognize that given the magnitude of the rebuilding, it’s just physically not possible for all claims to be resolved within a two-year period,” he said.
As of May 10, 97 per cent of residential claims had been resolved. Some 900 are outstanding, but 85 per cent of those have been granted extensions – some by as much as a year.
The courts are another avenue for recourse, but Adams could not say how many people have had to resort to that option so far.
Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci said he was in Fort McMurray recently, where residents and the city’s mayor raised concerns about unsettled insurance claims.