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October 2020 preview: Historical catastrophe activity

October marks the end of the 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 32 PCS® catastrophe events in October, including 20 wind and thunderstorm events, four hurricanes, five wildland fires, two tropical storms, and one winter storm. Those catastrophes accounted for more than $55.6 billion in estimated insured losses and more than 3.75 million claims.

October Historical Data 2010 2019

Of the previous ten Octobers, last year had the most considerable catastrophe frequency with eight designations, consisting of four wind and thunderstorm events, two wildland fires, and two tropical storms. The four wind and thunderstorm catastrophes accounted for nearly $3 billion in insured loss with over 183,000 claims. As for the two October 2019 wildfire catastrophes, the combined estimated insured loss was $875 million with 23,000 claims. Additionally, the two tropical storm catastrophes combined had an estimated insured loss of $239 million with more than 38,000 claims.

October 2017 had the second-highest event frequency with seven catastrophes, and October 2015 had six designated catastrophes, all of which were wind and thunderstorm events. There was only one catastrophe recorded in the month of October in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2016.

In the last ten years, October hurricane catastrophes caused about 2.5 million claims and nearly $33.6 billion in estimated insured losses. The three October 2017 wildfire catastrophes had a combined estimated loss exceeding $12 billion with almost 39,000 claims.

While 2019 had the most designated October catastrophes in the past ten years, the graph below shows that 2012 had the greatest severity concerning the number of claims and insured dollar loss due to Hurricane Sandy. The following graph illustrates October's catastrophe activity from 2010 to 2019 in terms of dollar losses and claim volumes.

October Historical Catastrophe Data 2010–2019

Ted Gregory

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

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