Ohio February Winter Storms Losses Less Than Expected

March 17, 2003

Preliminary estimates from February’s snow and ice storms that hammered 16 states from the Mid-Atlantic to New England caused less than $20 million in insured losses in Ohio, according to the Ohio Insurance Institute (OII).

Losses reported to-date stand at $17.5 million, significantly less than other snowstorms to hit Ohio in the past decade. OII expects the final tally of insured losses and claims to be higher, although it may not reach catastrophe levels. A catastrophe, in insurance terms, is an event that causes more than $25 million in insured property damage and affects multiple insurers.

Twenty-nine property/casualty insurance companies reported their loss information to the OII. Of those companies reporting claims, totals range from a handful to about 1,300. Insured loss estimates
range from $6,000 to about $2.5 million.

OII loss estimates include the storm system that passed through the state over President’s Day weekend starting on Feb. 14 and a subsequent winter storm the following week. According to survey results, insurance companies are reporting at least 6,900 insured claims from the storms.

The survey’s participants represent about 55 percent of the state’s commercial line market and about 74 percent of Ohio’s homeowners and personal and auto insurance markets, according to OII President Daniel J. Klesko. OII anticipates additional loss reports to roll in, Klesko said.

On the auto insurance side, fewer auto claims have been filed than normally anticipated from of a storm of this size. About 36 percent of the claims, according to the OII survey, were for damaged or totaled vehicles. Losses in the personal auto line currently stand at just under 2,500 claims for $6 million. Commercial losses, based on 136 claims, are currently estimated slightly under $1 million.

The major brunt of the storm occurred during the President’s Day holiday weekend. Advanced warning from the National Weather Service contributed to fewer auto-related claims. Schools, some businesses, and local and state governments were closed on Ohio’s heaviest snow day, so fewer Ohioans found it necessary to venture out.

Fifteen to 20 inches of snow were reported in some parts of the state while thick ice accumulations were buried under several inches of snow in southern Ohio.

On March 4, Gov. Bob Taft announced that the state is seeking federal disaster assistance for 15 Ohio counties, located primarily in the southern part of the state. The Ohio and Federal Emergency Management Agencies and U.S. Small Business Administration surveyed damage in southern Ohio, making a preliminary assessment of $17 million in disaster related costs.

These costs include snow and debris removal, emergency loss prevention measures and public utilities repair. The agencies found over 300 homes and businesses either damaged or destroyed in six counties.

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