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October 2019 preview: Historical catastrophe activity

By Ted Gregory  |  October 3, 2019

October marks the end of peak hurricane season. While the fourth quarter generally tends to be less active than the third, insurers should still be vigilant in preparing to assist policyholders in case of late-season events.

Over the past decade, there have been 24 PCS® catastrophe designations in October, including 16 wind and thunderstorm events, four hurricanes, three wildland fires, and one winter storm. Those catastrophes combined accounted for more than $50.3 billion in estimated insured losses and more than 3.5 million claims.

October hurricane catastrophes in the last 10 years caused about 2.5 million claims and more than $32.4 billion in estimated insured losses. Superstorm Sandy occurred late in the month in 2012 and was the most significant October storm of the past decade, causing $18 billion in insured losses from approximately 1.58 million claims. The 2017 wildfire catastrophes had a combined estimated loss that exceeded $12 billion with nearly 39,000 claims.

Over the past 10 years, October catastrophe frequency was most significant in 2017, when there were seven PCS-designated catastrophes: three wildland fires, three wind and thunderstorm events, and one hurricane. October 2015 had the second-highest event frequency with six catastrophes, all of which were wind and thunderstorm events. In 2011, the only designated catastrophe was a winter storm. Additionally, 2009 was the only year where there were no designated catastrophes in October.

While 2017 had the most designated catastrophes, the graph below shows that 2012 had the greatest claims severity due to Hurricane Sandy. The graph illustrates catastrophe activity for the month of October from 2009 to 2018 in terms of dollar losses and claim volumes.


Ted Gregory is director of operations for PCS at Verisk. You can contact Ted at tgregory@verisk.com.