Insurers to Pay $650 Million in May-June Wind, Hail and Tornado Catastrophe Claims

NEW YORK, June 10, 1998 — Three days of severe windstorms, hail and tornadoes across 12 states in late May and early June cost U.S. property/casualty companies an estimated $650 million in insured losses.

The severe weather generated losses through a total of nearly 250,000 claims between May 30 and June 1, according to the Property Claim Services unit of Insurance Services Office, Inc. Personal property catastrophe-losses totaled $424 million; commercial property, $170 million; and auto $56 million.

Hardest hit was Minnesota, reporting an estimated $200 million in insured losses for the period. Michigan posted the second-largest catastrophe loss for the period with an estimated $115 million in claims.

For insurance, a catastrophe is a single incident, or series of related incidents, causing insured property losses totaling more than $25 million.

The losses by state:
STATE INSURED LOSSES (EST.)
Iowa $ 20 million
Massachusetts $ 35 million
Michigan $ 115 million
Minnesota $ 200 million
New Hampshire $ 10 million
New Jersey $ 20 million
New York $ 60 million
Ohio $ 30 million
Pennsylvania $ 65 million
South Dakota $ 25 million
Vermont $ 10 million
Wisconsin $ 60 million

At $575 million, total catastrophe losses in Minnesota have been especially severe to date. Forty-two percent of all the insured catastrophe damage sustained in Minnesota over the past 20 years has occurred in three 1998 catastrophes: wind, hail and tornadoes of March 27-30, $175 million; May 15-16, $200 million; and May 30-June 1, $200 million. Since 1978, total insured catastrophe losses in Minnesota have totaled $1.4 billion.

Widespread damage to dwellings, commercial structures, and vehicles was reported across the affected areas as thunderstorm winds gusting to 90 MPH downed trees and tore off roofing and siding.

Several tornado touchdowns across South Dakota resulted in heavy damage to buildings. Hardest hit was the town of Spencer (Pop. 300) where most homes, vehicles, commercial structures and farm equipment were damaged or destroyed.

As violent thunderstorms continued to move toward the east, straight-line winds sweeping across Iowa into Michigan tore off roofing and siding, uprooted trees, and knocked them into structures and vehicles, and blew out windows. Many urban areas in Minnesota and Michigan were heavily affected by thunderstorms.

Thunderstorms rolling across the Northeast spawned several tornadoes in Pennsylvania and generated high winds over New York and New England. Numerous claims involved downed trees, power outages, along with damage to roofing, siding, and other outdoor property.

The ISO's PCS estimate represents anticipated insured loss on an industry-wide basis arising from a catastrophe event, reflecting the total net insurance payment for personal and commercial property lines of insurance covering fixed property, personal property, vehicles, boats, related property items and business-interruption. The estimate excludes loss adjustment expense.

Release: Immediate

Contacts:
Giuseppe Barone / Erica Helton
MWW Group (for ISO)
201-507-9500
gbarone@mww.com / ehelton@mww.com