NEW YORK, April 19, 2001 — U.S. property/casualty insurers will pay homeowners and businesses $705 million for insured property losses from three catastrophic events in the first quarter of this year, according to preliminary estimates from Insurance Services Office, Inc.'s (ISO) Property Claim Services (PCS) unit.
Despite suffering one of the coldest and snowiest winters in recent memory, first-quarter 2001 ranks last in catastrophes for the past 10 years — in total insured losses, number of claims and frequency of events.
First-quarter catastrophe losses this year were 64 percent lower than the $1.98 billion the industry paid out in first-quarter 2000, and almost 75 percent lower than the 10-year average of $2.8 billion in first-quarter catastrophe losses, according to the ISO unit.
The three events — two severe thunderstorms across the country's southern tier states and the Nisqually earthquake in the Pacific Northwest — caused property damage in 12 states and generated 110,000 claims for personal and commercial property, and automobile losses.
Washington incurred the largest insured-property loss — currently estimated at $315 million — from the earthquake, followed by Mississippi, $135 million; Texas, $65 million; Alabama, $60 million; and Arkansas, $55 million.
The quarter was also unusual in that all three catastrophes occurred in February. For the first time since 1992, January did not experience any catastrophes, nor did March for the first time in about 30 years.
Following is a 10-year overview of first-quarter catastrophe activity since 1992:
|Insured Loss||Number of Claims|
|$ 810 million||320,000|
|$ 2.925 billion||650,000|
|$ 1.110 billion||523,600|
|$ 2.555 billion||1,511,250|
|$ 860 million||478,500|
|$ 1.005 billion||497,500|
|$ 1.865 billion||824,615|
|$ 1.980 billion||560,000|
|$ 705 million||110,000|
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.