Insurance claims could soar if oilsands facilities are hit by raging infernos

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Spokespeople for numerous oilsands producers said the fire is still far away from facilities, with the closest roughly a 30-minute drive north from the city.

CALGARY – Canadian insurance companies will be expected to shell out hundreds of millions for the houses burned in the fire in Fort McMurray on Tuesday and Wednesday, but re-insurance companies around the world could also feel the pain if oilsands facilities are damaged as the inferno grows.

“If you look at the housing in Fort McMurray, most if not all of that would be underwritten by Canadian insurance companies, so that’s where the impact would be in terms of losses in the underwriting sector,” said Ken Hughes, who owns Calgary-based Alpine Insurance brokerage and was previously the province’s energy minister.

If the fire spreads further north, to the multi-billion oilsands facilities that are the major contributors to Canada’s total oil production, the economic fallout could be felt around the world, Hughes said.

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