A string of winter storms results in multiple PCS catastrophe designations

By Ted Gregory March 2, 2015

Property Claim Services (PCS) diligently monitored winter storm events throughout January and February.  In the past month, consecutive winter storms brought multiple waves of freezing temperatures, ice accumulation, high winds and massive amounts of snow in many areas. The frequency of the winter storms resulted in a record number of PCS-designated catastrophes. Within the last couple of weeks, PCS designated CATs 63 through 68 after monitoring several of these events for weeks.

Damages from winter storms often become manifest much later than the dates of the events that caused them. For example, wind and falling objects are closely tied to the dates of the storm; however, ice damming occurs over a period of time, collapsed roofs oftentimes occur after multiple events of snow accumulation, and water damage from burst pipes sometimes does not show up until days or weeks after the storm event, when the temperature starts to rise above freezing.  Business interruption claims also take time to appear and accurately be included into a carrier’s estimate of total potential insured loss.

With numerous storms affecting the same regions within a short span of time, overlap of storm fronts occurred. This is a fairly common phenomenon in the spring as waves of thunderstorm fronts make their way from the Midwest to the East Coast. This time, it was an issue of multiple waves of winter storms. CAT 64 occurred on February 16 and 17 affecting Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The tail end of another storm front, CAT 68 from February 16 through 22, affected the same states and overlapped with some of the states in CAT 64.

PCS reviews meteorological sources as well as feedback from carriers to determine the dates and states that correlate to each storm front. With winter storms and reports of damages days or weeks after the applicable event, this process is complex.

PCS actively monitored each of these winter storm events, and we’re here if you have questions on any of these cats. For more information, please contact me at 201-469-3144 or tgregory@verisk.com.


Ted Gregory

Ted Gregory is manager, Property Claim Services (PCS). PCS is a Verisk Analytics (Nasdaq:VRSK) business.