Insurers Pay $1.85 Billion on First-Quarter Catastrophe Claims, Estimates ISO's Property Claim Services

NEW YORK, April 12, 1999 — The U.S. property/casualty insurance industry paid an estimated $1.85 billion to homeowners and businesses for insured property losses from five catastrophic events in the first quarter, compared with $1.1 billion from 10 events in the year-ago period, according to Insurance Services Office, Inc.'s (ISO) Property Claim Services (PCS) unit.

The year began on a turbulent note with four catastrophes in January, totaling $1.8 billion in losses from nearly 800,000 claims, making it the third-costliest January since PCS began compiling catastrophe-loss information in 1949.

The January events affected 30 states. Two winter storms in the first two weeks of January and two storms in the last two weeks brought the month's insured property-loss total to $1.8 billion. The quarter's fifth event, a winter storm in the Pacific Northwest, occurred in March and generated $50 million in insured property losses.

The most expensive first-quarter catastrophe ever was January 1994, when an earthquake in Northridge, Calif., caused an estimated $12.5 billion in insured property damage. The second-worst was 1993, when a March winter storm cut a wide swath across 20 states from the U.S. Gulf Coast to New England and caused $1.75 billion in property losses.

Following is the ranking of the top 10 states for first-quarter catastrophe losses since 1990:

California $13.53 billion
Florida $1.53 billion
New York $1.51 billion
Texas $835 million
Pennsylvania $818 million
Georgia $654 million
New Jersey $525 million
Arkansas $486 million
North Carolina $475 million
Tennessee $414 million
 

ISO's PCS unit defines a catastrophe as an event that causes $25 million or more in insured property losses and affects a significant number of property/casualty policyholders and insurers.

The PCS estimate represents anticipated insured loss on an industry-wide basis arising from the catastrophe, reflecting the total net insurance payment for personal and commercial property lines of insurance covering fixed property, personal property, vehicles, boats, related property items, business interruption and additional living expenses. The estimates exclude loss-adjustment expenses.

Release: Immediate

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