Insurance News

Winter storm losses may top $2B

Posted on: February 16, 2010

WASHINGTON?Catastrophe modeler EQECAT Inc. estimates that the two winter storms that raked the mid-Atlantic region earlier this month caused more than $2 billion in insured losses.

Two storms struck the area, the first beginning on Feb. 5 and the second last week, leaving some parts of the Washington metropolitan area with more than 30 inches of accumulated snow.

Oakland, Calif.-based EQECAT based its estimate on a preliminary assessment of the overall scale of these storms and their snow, ice and wind impacts relative to major prior events in the past two decades. EQECAT expects that the majority of the losses will be focused in the corridor from northern Virginia to the New York metropolitan area.

EQECAT said the most common sources of monetary losses are a result of roof damage, pipe breakage, and ice dams in eaves causing water to leak into buildings.

Wind gusts of more than 50 mph were reported on the East Coast.

According to a spokeswoman for the New York-based Insurance Information Institute, winter storms are the third-largest cause of catastrophe losses annually.

?From 1999 to 2008, winter storms resulted in more than $7 billion in insured losses…. Winter storms cost $770 million in 2009, the lowest in eight years and $600 million below the average,? she said, in an e-mail.

Tim Doggett, principal scientist with AIR Worldwide Corp. in Boston, noted that the first storm resembled a 1996 storm in the same region in terms of snowfall but probably not in total impact.

?The blizzard of 1996…brought snowfall amounts comparable to (the first) storm, but it took a track that was farther to the north,? and hit densely populated areas, Mr. Doggett said in a statement last week. ?Hence, AIR does not expect the (second) storm to result in as much damage.?

Copyright © 2010 Crain Communications, Inc.

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