Winter Weather Freezes UK, Europe, But Impact is Limited

January 15, 2010

Old Man Winter has been showing his teeth. Freezing temperatures, combined with the heaviest snowfalls Britain and Europe have seen in 30 years, have snarled road, rail and air transportation, caused power outages and generally played havoc across northern Europe as well as in the U.S.

Marsh issued a bulletin detailing the steps beleaguered homeowners, car owners and businesses should take to “protect their physical assets maintain their services and protect their employees and the public during this time.”

Now that the weather is improving somewhat, government officials, businesses and the insurance industry are taking stock of the situation. “There’s certainly a potential impact,” said Chris Rackliffe, contingency underwriter at Beazley. “But it’s not a catastrophe by any stretch of the imagination.”

He indicated that although a number of events had been cancelled, notably football (soccer) matches and horse races, “most of them are still within policy limits.” Although there will be claims from cancellations, such as the races, that cannot be rescheduled, “the football matches can be replayed, so there won’t be any ticket refunds, and there won’t be any loss of T.V. revenues.”

Rackliffe also noted that the experience with the bad weather would have some additional effects for the future. “We’re starting to see higher rates and higher deductibles for coverage,” he said.

In addition some businesses, are seeking to protect themselves from revenue losses due to weather related events. Rackliffe mentioned art exhibitions, trade shows, transportation related companies, agricultural enterprises and even local governments (whose budgets are imperiled by emergency outlays) as the types of operations who could profit from having coverage related to lost revenues.

“This type of coverage is more common in the U.S. than in the UK,” he explained, “but now we’re having more inquiries about it here as well.” Beazley recently wrote just such a policy in the U.S., and sees growing potential for the coverage in the future.

In addition to local governments, who’ve exceeded their budgets because of additional expenses related to the weather, there are also airports and similar operations, which not only lose revenues because of the weather, but are also obliged to spend more, mainly snow removal and de-icing, to keep operations going.

Sources; Beazley (interview) – and Marsh – or

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