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January 2018 preview: historical catastrophe activity

By Ted Gregory  |  January 8, 2018
Ice buildup from a winter storm. Photo courtesy of Analog Kid via Wikimedia Commons.

With winter underway, we look ahead to January catastrophe event risks. PCS® has designated 17 catastrophes during the month of January between 2008 and 2017. These include nine winter storms and eight wind and thunderstorm events that caused nearly $6.8 billion in insured losses.

Greatest catastrophe frequency

The past two Januaries saw the month’s greatest catastrophe frequency since 2008. PCS designated three January events in both 2016 and 2017.

The largest January winter storm since 2008, though, was CAT 32, designated in 2014. That storm involved 17 states and estimated insured losses of $1.7 billion. A polar vortex contributed to the event’s severity. Earlier in January 2014, CAT 31 caused $170 million in insured losses. So, in total, 2014 had nearly $1.8 billion in insured losses from 164,000 claims.

Other January PCS catastrophe events took place in 2008 and 2010.

The following graph illustrates catastrophe activity for the month of January from 2008 to the present in terms of dollar losses and claim volumes.January Hisorical Data on catastrophe events from PCS

About PCS

PCS is recognized around the world as the property/casualty insurance industry’s authority on catastrophic events in the United States. In addition to providing a wide range of services to subscribers in the United States, PCS maintains contact with industry representatives in many foreign cities and Bermuda.

The PCS name has become synonymous with catastrophe reporting and assignment of catastrophe identification numbers. PCS information is used primarily as a check on internal company damage estimates in setting loss reserves and as a guide to deployment of field adjusters.

The PCS Catastrophe Previews are proprietary and copyrighted documents that may not be copied or redistributed without prior written consent. Subscribers to PCS are permitted to copy the bulletins for their internal use only. The catastrophe loss estimates reported in the PCS Catastrophe Previews are proprietary intellectual property. They may not be used by anyone for any investment or insurance purposes without an appropriate license from ISO.

Ted Gregory is director of operations for PCS at Verisk. You can contact Ted at