NEW YORK, April 13, 2000 — U.S. property/casualty insurers will pay $1.71 billion to homeowners and businesses for insured property losses from seven catastrophic events in the first quarter of this year, according to initial estimates from Insurance Services Office, Inc.'s (ISO) Property Claim Services (PCS) unit. That compares with $1.85 billion in catastrophe losses from five events in the first quarter of 1999.
The worst first quarter for catastrophe losses was in 1994, when losses hit $14.5 billion, primarily because of the Northridge earthquake in southern California. The lowest ever first-quarter insured-property loss was $305 million in 1990.
The seven catastrophes in this year's first quarter affected 25 states, spanning most of the eastern half of the United States. Texas topped the list with $990 million in insured property damage, including the damage inflicted when tornadoes hit Fort Worth and neighboring communities in late March.
The next five states in magnitude of catastrophe loss are: Louisiana — $188 million; Kentucky — $80 million; Georgia — $60 million; and Massachusetts and North Carolina — $40 million each. Texas and Louisiana each were affected by four catastrophes during the quarter.
For the quarter, insurers received nearly 560,000 claims for personal and commercial property, and automobile losses.
The quarter ranks as the fifth-worst among all first quarters since 1990 in the total number of claims as well as in insured-property loss.
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 industrywide basis arising from catastrophes, 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.