The Co-operators pay out $1.97 billion in claims and benefits in 2017

Fire, flooding were the biggest factors in property damage claims

The Co-operators paid out a record total of $1.97 billion in claims and benefits to clients last year, according to its 2017 Integrated Annual Report released at its annual general meeting in Moncton, Thursday.

Despite the lack of any major natural catastrophe in 2017, a number of frequent, severe storms and flooding across Canada resulted in property claims volume jumping by 14.9% year over year. However, the overall dollar figure was lower than in 2016, the year of the Fort McMurray wildfires.

Related: February floods in Ontario, Quebec caused more than $57 million in insured damage: CatIQ

Property damage made up 44% of all payouts in 2017, with 40% of those claims related to fire. Water-related property damage totaled 28%, wind, hail and ice made up 16%, while theft and vandalism amounted to 9% (other factors made up the remaining 7%).

“While a more volatile and less predictable environment presents challenges our organization must adapt to, it also heightens the importance of our role as an insurer,” said Rob Wesseling, The Co-operators president and CEO.

The report states that insured losses from natural disasters have more than doubled, now exceeding an average of $1 billion per year in Canada—a trend that calls for improved flood insurance products to be made more widely available to Canadians. But it also speaks to a need for awareness on the matter.

“As we help clients recover, we must also work to prevent losses through education and advocacy aimed at building safer, more sustainable and resilient Canadian communities,” Wesseling said.

Following property damage, collision repairs made up the second highest number of payouts, at 22% of the total. The Co-operators cite distracted driving as one of its biggest concerns, saying it’s focused on raising awareness of the negative impacts of the behaviour.

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