Insurance and other Financial Services



Insurance – Managing Risks due to Weather

Today the major impact of weather on financial services is caused by extreme events. Some countries are more vulnerable than others because of their geographical location, their population distribution, or their national wealth. In developing countries, there may be high mortality from extreme weather but relatively small costs to the financial sector because of low levels of insurance. In developed nations, the loss of life may be much less but there may be huge costs to the insurance industry.

Of the 40 worst catastrophes that happened around the world, between 1970 and 1999, in terms of insurance losses and fatalities, only six were not weather related.

Source: Science and Impacts of Climate Change CD -Presentation Graphics (2002) MSC Environment Canada/ ESS Natural Resources Canada, December

1. Draw a best-fit line for the data shown on the above graph.
2. Extend the line to the year 2005. How many weather related disasters does this line predict?
3. Research what actually did occur for this 5-year period and calculate the accuracy of the prediction. What does an extension to this line predict for 2019?

Excerpts from a speech made by Angus Ross in a presentation to the Institute for Catastrophic Loss.

Angus Ross Chief Agent, SOREMA N.A.


Climate Change and its impacts on the insurance industry.

June 9, 2000

“It is probably accurate to say that the only catastrophe which has occurred in the last thirty years in Canada where a realistic estimation of insured losses has been made is the Ontario/Quebec ice storm.

I would very strongly urge there be a central repository for catastrophe loss information – and the most obvious place would be the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction – to which all insurance companies licensed in the country would have to report gross and net losses following a named catastrophe. The individual data could be kept confidential and only aggregate data released. In this fashion we would be able to provide totally accurate numbers to the government and indeed back up the push for greater government involvement in the reduction of catastrophic losses. Allied to this is the absence of catastrophe naming.

In the United States when a disaster exceeds I believe it is $25 mn then it is designated a catastrophe and at that point loss information starts to be provided. I believe that we can go somewhat further than that and set up a body which would not only identify the catastrophe but also define it. Such a group would probably consist of meteorologists, seismologists, representatives from the insurance industry and representatives from the reinsurance industry so that within a short time of a catastrophe occurring we would be able to designate the exact time period for the catastrophe, whether or not it was one or two events, and subsequently to total the insured losses from the event. I think we would all benefit from the establishment of such a committee”.

Source: H. Auld, D.MacIver, Environment Canada, 2002

1. State what the title of this map means in your own words.
2. Locate where someone you know lives on this map. What are the chances of damaging freezing rain storm?
3. What are some of the damages that occur in ice storms? Hint: see 1998
4. What are some of the economic consequences of such an ice storm today?

Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada (PSEPC) is a very recently established department.

Estimation of Severe Ice Storm Risks for South-Central Canada

Source: Joan Klaassen and Shouquan Cheng Heather Auld, Qian Li, Ela Ros, Malcolm Geast, Guilong Li, Ron Lee Excerpts from the Executive Summary of the Research Report for the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness. Meteorological Service of Canada – Ontario Region

Environment Canada 2002

Executive Summary

  • Ice Storm ’98 was a reminder of just how vulnerable our society has become to severe freezing rain storms. As our population continues to increase and our society becomes even more urbanized, both the size and number of targets impacted by these severe winter storms will increase. Added to this vulnerability will be our continued dependence on electronics and an uninterrupted supply of electricity along with the dependence of our businesses and industries on “just-in-time” delivery. As a result of these shifts, we have collectively become extremely vulnerable to the power of severe ice storms to interrupt our supplies and distribution of electricity, water supplies, and communications and to delay our ground and air-based transportation.
  • In order to be better prepared for future severe ice storms, communities need to know current and future risks from severe ice storms of magnitudes approaching those of Ice Storm ’98. Better severe ice storm risk information will allow better emergency planning in regions or communities identified as more at risk from this hazard. It will also help communities to identify critical infrastructure and allow improved planning and design of this infrastructure to minimize future risks.
  • In the major freezing rain storms that have occurred in Ontario since the 1920s, most of the impacts have occurred as a result of widespread and often long-lasting outages in the communications and power transmission and distribution systems.
  • Damage and outages in the power distribution system are often caused by broken or weakened and sagged tree limbs. Under the weight of accumulating ice, tree branches can fall or sag into overhead electrical distribution lines. Accumulations of ice can increase the branch weight of trees by 30 times or greater. Small branches and weak tree limbs break with ice accumulations between ¹ and ¸ inch (~6-12 mm), while ¸ inch to 1 inch (~12-25 mm) accumulations can cause larger branches to break. If high storm winds are combined with the ice loading, the damage to trees and infrastructure will increase, with communications and power distribution outages subsequently becoming more likely. Without the presence of trees, power outages during ice storms occur only at relatively high ice loads.
  • The amount of ice accumulation in a storm is normally directly related to the amount of freezing precipitation that has fallen during the storm. Normally, shorter duration events (i.e. 1-2 hours) will have lower ice accumulation amounts than those of longer duration (i.e. 6-12 hours or longer).

Welcome to ICLR the home page of the organization.

Thank you for visiting the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR). ICLR is working to reduce disaster deaths, injuries and property damage. We are committed to the development of disaster prevention knowledge, and the broad dissemination of these research findings. On this website, for example, researchers can learn more about studies underway, recent publications and upcoming workshops. Individuals can improve their understanding of the science behind several hazards, and learn how to better protect their family and home.

ICLR is a research institute. Established by Canada’s property and casualty insurers, we are working to reduce disaster losses. The Institute is internationally recognized for our leadership in multi-disciplinary disaster prevention research. Quality research provides the foundation for better public policy and disaster management. We use research findings to help you better understand the hazards that you are vulnerable to, and identify simply steps you can take to better protect your family and your home.

Canada’s property and casualty insurers founded the Institute in 1998. ICLR is a co-ordinated effort to reduce disaster losses involving member insurance companies, the The University of Western Ontario and other partners. The Institute earns contract revenue for specific projects, and workshop fees. Ongoing funding is provided by member insurers, and the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund.


Quality research is the foundation for enhanced disaster safety and reduced losses. ICLR’s research priorities emphasize the benefits of multi-disciplinary research. The Institute is building a research network of individuals involved in disaster research, including a program focusing on the social and health impacts of disasters. We support researchers in many institutions (current research). Our research findings are shared through our publications series. Researchers are also invited to participate in our workshop program.


Be prepared! There are simple, inexpensive steps that you should take immediately to reduce your family’s vulnerability to disasters. ICLR’s disaster safety advice applies to all hazards. For several hazards – earthquakes, lightning/hail, flood/drought, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and winter storms – we provide information so you can better understand the risk, and protect your family and your home.


ICLR is committed to improved public awareness about disasters. Some items on this website that may be of interest to students include a scientific introduction to several hazards including earthquakes, lightning/hail, flood/drought, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and winter storms.

See other Canadian websites. Search emergency preparedness, disasters, etc.

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